The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Attacks from abroad

 Attacks from abroad
Attacks from abroad

Attacks from abroad

I sat in my room in an apartment nine floors off the ground in Madrid reading for my next class. The lady I lived with walked into my room and in Spanish told me there was something on the television I needed to see.

She led me to the sitting room and pointed to the screen. The World Trade Center was flaming and the news announcer spoke rapidly in Spanish. I couldn’t understand much of what the anchor said, but my “se-ntilde;ora” explained to me that a plane crashed into the towers just a few minutes ago. At that moment I didn’t fully comprehend the severity of the situation. I didn’t really believe that the things I watched happened in the United States. Was that really New York?

A few minutes later I called some other SMU students who were abroad in the same program to see what was happening. It took us some time to realize that it was an attack, not an accident. We came to understand that terrorists flew the planes, and not only had they hit the WTC, but also the Pentagon. Immediately we traveled across town to an Irish pub that had television in English.

Watching the news in that pub was surreal. It didn’t seem possible that our nation was under attack. We came abroad knowing that Europe wasn’t the safest place, that it was different from the United States. We had to watch for pickpockets, robbers and even small terrorist groups native to Spain. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in Spain anymore. I wasn’t even sure we would be allowed to stay there for the semester.

Everywhere we went there were people passing out flyers and newspapers about the attack and the upcoming war against terrorism. There were televisions on the public transportation in Madrid, and every one of them poured images of people jumping out of buildings, lying on stretchers, buildings crumbling, people screaming in pain and terror. Those pictures were followed by pictures of Palestinian children jumping up and down in delight in the streets of their country. They were cheering over some sort of victory. What kind of person celebrates the infliction of this type of evil?

Since returning to the United States I have been told that after a certain amount of days the images of people jumping from the buildings were no longer shown on television. That never happened in Madrid.

I remember sitting in my apartment one day watching the news when a video of bin Laden was played on the news. As the announcer translated from his language into Spanish I listened in total bewilderment. The translation made it very difficult to hear what the video said and it left me frustrated and wondering what was happening.

In the following days the faculty who run the school in Madrid told us that we needed to check in with the American Embassy. We received e-mails from the embassy with instructions of how to blend in with the Spaniards and avoid looking too American.

Being in Spain over Sept. 11 made me realize how fortunate I am to be an American. We are afforded so many freedoms and privileges other people in the world can’t even fathom. When attacked by terrorists we unite instead of crumble, fight rather than flee and never give up hope.

Before Sept. 11 and my semester abroad I was proud of my country, but since then I have a much greater respect for the price of freedom. My semester in Spain was remarkable and I would do it all over again, but at the end of the day I am glad to be home, and proud to be an American.

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