September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:It was just aother school day. Wake up at 6:30 and out the door by 7:30am. But instead of dropping off the kids at school and then heading back home, I was going to see my newborn nephew in the hospital who was born at 12:30am September 11, 2001.

My sister-in-law was waiting for me and the baby was coming from the nursery. They had taken him to get a bath. As I waited to see this new addition to our family I glanced up and caught what I thought was a movie of a plane hitting a tall building. The sound was off so we didn't hear anything.

After turning the sound up we realized it was the World Trade Center. We still thought it was a movie until the second plane hit. I completely forgot why I was there in the hospital. My nephew arrived in the room and instead of being happy to see him I was filled with fear and sadness.

He was a healthy little boy brought into this world on a most unforgetable day. I had to leave him quiker than I had wanted to so I could go and retrieve my kids from their Islamic private school. My husband and I were concerned about backlash and security.

My husband told me to be careful leaving the hospital and driving. I really didn't see the point for this was my city and my neighbors and Orlando was such an accepting place to be. I forget that wearing a head covering, though, makes me a target.

My eyes darted down the corridor as I walked swiftly to my car. I suspected everyone would make a comment or look at me more than they ever had before. But, fortunately, my beautiful city that has been my family's home for 2 generations was more compassionate than ever. No one looked at me stranger than before; no one tried to swipe me off the road; no one seemed to even notice me anymore than they ever did.

Turning into the parking lot of the school I noticed the Sherrif's office had made it there before me. I was relieved. I knew the students were safe but this added security made me feel better. My children were waiting for me but had no idea what had happened. They thought I was coming to pick them up early because someone died. They didin't realize that many people had died but it wasn't their newborn nephew. I assured them he was healthy and safe and that we were going home to be together as a family.

The kids only saw a little bit of TV that day. My husband and I watched it all night. We cried. We mourned. We hurt.

The next day school was closed so they could prepare any security plans. It reopened after 2 days.

My husband was scared for me to go out in the community. I wasn't. This was my city and my neighbors and my friends. But I could see his pain and concern so I stayed home until the evening.

The muslim community had called a town meeting to be held at the school gym. I knew I had to go. I am a volunteer to the heart and needed to help my community and nation anyway I could. My husband knew that, too.

Many community members came to be together and find out what they could do to help those who had suffered. We made plans to have a blood drive. We made plans to have speakers ready for the media that would soon ascend on our school and masjid. We all agreed that this act of terrorism was horrible and we condemned it. We knew then our religion of peace was under fire.

We were given tips on how to stay safe in the event of serious backlash. Women were urged to use common sense when going out and urged to not stay at home and be scared. They were urged to go out and do their shopping, take their kids to school, go to their friend's house for coffee. Whatever their normal routine was they could do with just a bit of common sense. Students were urged to continue to attend classes even though many young ladies wore a headcover. They were urged to contact their administrators.

Unfortunately, this town meeting was picked up by some local radio talk show hosts and condemned as being a party and celebration. Those in attendance couldn't believe this rhetoric and knew it was far from a happy party. We all cried together and made plans to help. There was no cause for celebration as we saw our nation in pain.

Our community received hundreds of emails, letters, and phone calls offering prayers, and help. Some offered their guard dogs and to take women who were scared to the grocery store and to be a body guard.

No major vandalism was reported except for minor grafitti written across a door. My city, Orlando the Beautiful, proved to be the loving, accepting community that it always had been.

I am a second generation Floridian of Irish descent. I converted to Islam 12 years ago. I am a woman who wears a hijab (headscarf) proudly and unwaveringly. My background is in education and my goal is to educate all to learn to not just tolerate those of other faiths but accept their choice and freedom to practice.


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