{ missing pieces }

I Am Not Afraid to Fly

When I was young, I used to keep track of how many times I had flown, citing it as matter of personal pride in social conversations. As a child, my family moved all over the world, and at one point I had calculated that I had flown in an airplane about twenty times before the age of thirteen. I stopped counting when my family moved to rural Michigan and settled down.

Only recently have I begun to travel frequently again, flying to conferences all over the country several times a year as well flying to San Francisco a half dozen times a year for business. I estimate that I've flown two dozen times in the past three years. Traveling by plane, for me, was second nature. Like many others, I took it for granted.

And then they blew up the towers. With planes. Planes carrying people just like me. People who only wanted to get to their destinations without any interruptions. People whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The list of victims grows and grows. The list of the missing truly represents the global make-up of New York City. Not just Americans, but many people who came to here to work, to play, to experience the American way of life. Citizens from more than 40 countries.

I live in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, one of the most gentrified areas in the NYC metro area. Yuppies live next door to second-generation residents. African-Americans share buildings with Jewish-Americans, Arab-Americans, Italians, Cubans, Purto Ricans, and just about every nationality you can think of. People from all walks of life live and work here. New York City represents what America stands for. Give me your tired, give me your poor, indeed.

Last week, from my rooftop in Brooklyn, I watched as the towers burned and then fell. I looked around and I saw my neighbors also on their rooftops, many in a quiet shock at what was unfolding before their eyes. At that moment I realized that the terrorist attacks weren't just an attack on America, they were an attack on the world. America is a place where everyone comes from someplace else. America is truly a melting pot, with New York City being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.

America and the world will mourn. And then they will rebuild. Whether or not there is a war in between these two events remains to be seen. People are slowly getting back into planes and flying again. Tourism and the travel industry will recover. The airline industry will see some shake-out and consolidation. People will remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001 but common sense will prevail.

I am an American, and I am not afraid to fly.

Cameron Barrett

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