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Experiencing Terrorism

Nancy Gibbs … 151
Andrea Heiman … 165
Cal Fussman … 175

M ost everyone in the world with a television set was riveted by the sights and sounds of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. In just a few minutes, two gigantic skyscrapers that had been signatures of the New York skyline had vanished, all of it captured on live television and to be seen countless times in the weeks and months ahead.

Many commented that the image of hijacked planes flying into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and their consequent destruction was like a dream or something out of a movie. But it was all too real. For those watching on the screen, the horror and fear of being caught in one of the towers was almost too much to bear. What was it like to be trapped? How could there be an escape?

Just the same, images of carnage and blownout busses can be seen on an almost nightly basis from the Middle East. Yet at times it is easy to lose perspective of how frightening it can be to live in an area where a bus can suddenly explode, or to live with the fear that a suicide bomber can walk into a pizza parlor and destroy human beings. It all seems far away.

The following narratives provide a firsthand account of what it feels like to be caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. What goes through a person's mind? What are the physical sensations? What is it like to think you are going to die?

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Experiencing Terrorism

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