Monday, 24 September 2001

Pennsylvania -> New York -> Vermont, Friday 14 September 2001.

There is little traffic on the highways. Cars are adorned with waving American flags. The Stars and Stripes are everywhere. The phrases
  • God bless America
  • United we stand
  • Proud to be American
are displayed everywhere, on every possible display medium. From commercial billboards to church notice boards to hand-made boards in front of private homes. The Americans are sure they'll defeat the enemy. United they stand by their president. Political differences have evaporated, no more discussions, one nation, one president, one people.

Vermont, 15-18 September 2001.

Vermont lies just south of the Canadian border. The holiday cottage in Shrewsbury (vermontproperty.com/rentals...) offers a magnificient view. The hills are covered with nothing but trees.

No trade centers here. Above 2500 feet it is practically forbidden to construct anything (vermontguides...business...) a representative of Ludlow's Chamber of Commerce (vtliving.com/.../ludlow) explains to me. Vermont made a conscious decision to leave things the way they were. This is why Vermont is especially attractive to tourists, not to terrorists.

New York and Washington are far, far away. Yet the people here are deeply affected by the attacks. This was the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was somewhere far away in the Pacific Ocean, not in their backyard.

This was the first time ever that America was attacked on their own soil, from within their own soil. This is quite scary, but no reason to panic. The Americans are fully convinced that they will defeat the enemy.

Newark Airport, (panynj.gov/...) Terminal B, 19 September 2001, four and a half hours before departure.

There is a long queue in front of the check-in counters. Passengers are nervously chatting to each other. Most of these people are foreigners, returning home. There are strikingly few Americans in the queue.

The restaurant in Terminal A is very quiet. This is the terminal for domestic flights. Odd to be in an almost deserted restaurant. The meal arrives with just a fork, no knive. The waiter relates that his sister managed to leave the WTC just in time, barely surviving the disaster. All of a sudden the disaster seems uncomfortably close.

On board things are quiet too. I have 3 seats for myself. At take-off the atmosphere is a bit tense. I'm relieved to see the plane keeps flying in a straight line, heading for Holland.

the Netherlands, 20 September 2001.

The Dutch are very concerned indeed. Here fear controls life more than it did in the States. Will there be war? Will the economy fall into a deep recession? Of course the Dutch members of parliament are busy discussing the procedures to follow should the need arise to discuss any military actions. Sigh, the Dutch and their culture of deliberations. Yes, I'm home again.

Apart from that, things are quiet. The lull before the storm?

Till next week,