The 9/11 Families confront the Marathon Bombing


Elise Cooper

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, many Americans reflected on September 11th, 2001. That date lives in the minds of everyone, but especially those who were most impacted, the 9/11 families. They spoke with American Thinker about how viewing that tragic bombing conjured up memories of the previous atrocity, and they wondered if Americans actually learned anything from 9/11.

Everyone interviewed felt, after seeing the video and hearing reports, that it was a Jihadi attack. They wanted to warn Americans to be prepared, since this is just the beginning. Each family member interviewed was angry and saddened by this tragic event.

Debra Burlingame, a co-founder of Keep America Safe and the sister of the pilot whose plane was flown into the Pentagon, emphasized policy issues. “After seeing what happened, I closed my eyes and swallowed hard. Then I thought about two people who should feel vindicated, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. King was treated with such contempt for choosing to look into the radicalization of Muslims in the U.S., while Kelly was criticized (by Attorney General Eric Holder and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie) for his stop-and-frisk as well as his Muslim surveillance programs. Americans should understand political correctness is the big danger here.” She also believes that any community who has gone through an Islamic terrorist attack is more than willing to endure searches and camera surveillance. “Civil liberties matter until they don’t.”

Her personal feelings came out as she reflected on the footage of Krystle Campbell’s mother speaking about her daughter who had died in the Boston attack. Debra is hoping that people will still look on those that died or were maimed as the victims not the nineteen-year-old terrorist. “Seeing that mom speak was absolutely crushing for me. I understood exactly what she was going through: the shock, the stunned surreal sense that her dear beloved Krystle was gone, and her raw public heartbreak. It all took me right back, even more than the bomb itself.”

Judi Reiss lost her twenty-three-year-old son, Joshua, when the World Trade Center buildings fell. She is fed up with all those who are asking why. For her, it is the fact that they became radicalized Muslim extremists that want to destroy America’s culture. “How many wake-up calls do we need? We did not learn from 9/11 and we will not learn from this either. Is anybody asking why this terrorist got his citizenship on 9/11, 2012? What is it going to take for us to realize that their mission is to destroy the American way of life by killing us? Reading him his Miranda Rights is stupid and insane. I could not believe it. Even Bill Maher said last Friday, ‘I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce their faith.’ Let’s face it — a percentage of this religion wants to murder people who do not agree with them. They murder us in the name of their religion.”

As she watched events unfolding Judi had those feelings return, that of fear, despair, and a profound sense of loss. “I started to cry. My mind and heart took me back to Josh and to get solace I looked at some pictures I had of my son. The pain is indescribable. My heart hurt for those injured and killed. I hope those in Boston will take the time to grieve for what they lost. I am sure there is a loss of that sense of innocence. Life is just not going to be the same.”

Gordon Haberman is angry that this terrorist event is not called what it is: “An act of fundamentalist terrorism. No one is using the ‘M and IE’ words, Muslim and Islamic Extremists. Why can’t we string these words together is beyond me. I want people to connect the fact that even though these people are from Chechnya they are still Muslim fundamentalists. We have a problem in this country and we better react to it, better identify it, better be more vigilant, and call it for what it is. I am waiting for the Islamic nations to apologize to us.”

He lost his twenty-five-year-old daughter Andrea when the North Tower fell. Hearing about Boston, he immediately thought back to his daughter and the fact that these terrorists target ranges of people, making no distinction for age, religion, or political affiliation. His thoughts go out to the victims, especially since the second bomb was such a malicious act, being placed knowing people would be running in that direction, away from the first bomb.

Joe Holland blames this administration’s rhetoric. “They didn’t even call the Fort Hood massacre a terrorist attack. They called it violence in the work place. Look at Benghazi, how they tried to spin that terrorist attack. Watch, you will see they will read this guy his Miranda Rights and the spin will be to feel sorry for him, that he was influenced by his brother. That is just wrong since it is so obvious considering after they did this they went about their normal lives.”

He lost his son Joe Holland, Junior, who should be remembered as a first-time father of a baby boy who will grow up not knowing his dad. He wants Americans and Bostonians both to understand that this will change their whole lives as 9/11 changed his. “Americans should realize these people do not care about human life. I thought about that father who lost his son. Unfortunately, it does not get any better. The pain never goes away. It just seems nothing has changed, that we have not learned anything since 9/11.”

Jacquie Van Laere is upset that the president referred to the tragedy as “‘All in all it’s been a tough week.’ A tough week, a tough week, is a few things that did not go right. This statement is a joke. No, actually it is pathetic. I wonder if the victims and families would refer to it as a tough week.”

She lost her brother Dan in the World Trade Center collapse. “A few days before and a few days after 9/11 I get depressed and feel emotionally exhausted which are the same feelings I had when I heard what happened in Boston. I cannot comprehend this hatred. How could anyone inflict such injury and death on another human being? There is a dichotomy going on here: out of so much hatred and bloodshed comes so much love. Just look at how the community of Boston came together. I really admire them.”

All those interviewed want Americans to know that they must wake up and recognize that it is the extreme Muslims who are the terrorists, not someone who attends a synagogue or church. They want everyone to understand that when the families’ initial grief is over, they will need a surge of love and support. These horrific events challenge the victims and their loved ones’ faith in humanity and the response must be overwhelming to restore that faith.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.