Just posted to our Web site, Maryann Cusimano Love remembers 9/11, when her weekly class at the Pentagon was interrupted by the terrorist attack:
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I set out to teach class in the Pentagon, like I did every week. Our class that semester was about emerging security threats posed by terrorism and non-state actors, and my students were military officers and other government officials, who took part in The Catholic University of America’s off-campus graduate programs in international affairs. A dead car battery kept me out of harm's way that morning. My students were not so lucky. Our class studying terrorism found itself under terrorist attack.
People began fleeing the capital on foot, while armed troops appeared on the streets. I prayed and scrambled to reach my students, but phone and e-mail connections were down. I knew my students were in the part of the building that was now a fiery hole. Over the next hours and days my students checked in, one by one. Miraculously, they lost colleagues, but themselves escaped, saved by the position of the water cooler or the desk or some other unexpected protection. After emerging from the burning building, many of them turned around and went back in to help others. Nathan Freier, a veteran, helped the first responders, then began planning the U.S. response. Chaplain Col. David Colwell worked with the investigative teams, blessing human remains as any were recovered, and offering pastoral counseling to grieving families. Lt. Col. William Zemp briefed President George W. Bush after he returned from his zig-zag trip across the country.
Their actions represented a pattern of selfless service to be repeated in the days that followed. Themselves the victims of terrorist attacks, they were now charged with carrying out the U.S. war against terror. Colin Powell, then secretary of state, argued that combating terror should have only a limited military component. Instead, effective counter-terror tools were financial, political, diplomatic and legal. "This is not a war, but is a drawn-out, multi-faceted campaign that will last years," he said. Powell noted that military response is a "blunt instrument" that should be "kept to a minimum." While countering al Qaeda was not a war against Islam, civilian casualties would make it seem that way. The soldiers in our class voiced similar, realistic and prescient concerns about the limitations of military force.
Read the rest here, including Professor Love's call to build a peace that avoids both "the pre-9/11 denial of the [terrorist] problem and the post- 9/11 over-militarized response."