Producer/Host: R.W. Estela
9/12/2016 — R.W. Estela, A Word in Edgewise
This past week President Barack Obama signed a proclamation that Friday, September 9th through Sunday, September 11th be recognized as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance — to honor and remember the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones.
Some of us who teach college-aged students realized quite clearly this semester that our incoming freshman know virtually nothing about the events of September 11th, 2001 other than what they have been told — for the simple reason that they probably would only have been three years old at the time.
That Tuesday morning fifteen years ago was clear and bright with a fair breeze. Not much would have suggested that by noon that day the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York would have collapsed, that a sizeable portion of the western edge of the Pentagon in Washington DC would have been destroyed, that a commercial airliner would have crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and that 2,996 people would have been killed and an additional 6,000 would have been injured, and that an estimated $2 trillion worth of physical damage would have been done.
Fifteen years and two days ago, an Egyptian terrorist, Mohamed Atta (the purported ringleader of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers) and his sidekick, Saudi terrorist Abdulaziz al-Omari were staying at the Comfort Inn in South Portland, Maine and running a few errands to local ATMs and to the Wal-Mart.
The next morning — the morning of 9/11 — they would catch an early flight from the Portland Jetport to Boston’s Logan Airport to board American Airlines Flight #11, which they would hijack soon after takeoff and subsequently pilot into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
What most people do not know, however, is that during the five years prior to 9/11, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari lived together at two different loactions in Orono, Maine — one on Allen Road off College Avenue and Park Street, and the other on College Avenue.
Bob Sutkus, a fishing buddy of mine and our former mailman, delivered mail to Atta and al-Omari at both locations — and was interviewed by the FBI in the days following 9/11.
Atta and al-Omari lived at the first locale in 1996 — five years before the 9/11 attacks.
They were posing as students on leave from the United Arab Emirates Navy, in Orono to study at the Intensive English Institute on the University of Maine campus.
Our mailman was accustomed to delivering mail to LOTS of international students, and he did not find Atta and ol-Amari to be like any international students he had ever dealt with.
Closer to 9/11, in 2000, Atta would try to rent an airplane from Acadia Air at the Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, Maine.
My friend Tina, daughter of the Fixed Base Operator, Bob Bouffard, was working the front counter of Acadia Air at the time, and when Tina informed Atta of the FAA documentation he would need to furnish and the check-ride he would have to do with Acadia Air’s chief pilot, Sandy Reynolds, Atta became argumentative. When Tina asked Atta to hang on a moment while she fetched her dad to clarify things, Atta left the scene.
This past Friday the United States federal government marked its return to the rebuilt 1 World Trade Center by moving its New York City offices back to Lower Manhattan for the first time since the original World Trade Center collapsed into rubble fifteen years ago.
We have asked ourselves many questions since then. How many have been the right questions and how many have been the wrong questions remains a matter of conjecture.
Also this past Friday the Obama administration was dealing with a different sort of terrorism, a type of corporate terrorism assisted by United States District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, who rejected a request from Native Americans for a court order to block a pipeline being built in North Dakota by Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP.
Stay tuned to forthcoming editions of A Word in Edgewise for additional developments among the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota — including the support they have been drawing from 200 other Native American tribes as well as activists and celebrities.
But meanwhile, let’s remember fifteen years and a day ago — in a collective effort of awareness as who we are and why we should take care in whatever we do.
From Orono, Maine, here’s to a great day!
rwe edgeword @ 2016