Sent to iranian.com on September 19, 2001, days after the 9/11 tragedy. It is being published for the first time.
As the shock wears down on such a catastrophic occurrence, I am filled with anguish. So many lives are lost… so many families torn apart. The pain in my heart deepens because I look further into the horizon and see an even darker picture. This is not something that will go away tomorrow. This tragedy of all tragedies can never be forgotten. As I try to understand the motives behind such a horrendous act against humanity, I am overcome with even more sorrow.
These madmen, criminals against the human race, are not here to pick up the pieces of what they have shattered. They are not here to see what a furious tornado they have unleashed. They have wreaked havoc, destroying so much. And, here we are; left to clean, to make amends, to right the wrong, to purify the evil that they have poured into our world.
We as Iranian-Americans are feeling the agony and sheer grief for all the people who have died. These people could have been family members, friends, acquaintances, or even strangers. Yet, their absence is vividly felt in the heart of every one of us. However, not only are we consumed by this tremendous loss, but we are also faced with another horror: the blame and hatred of others.
I came to this country twenty years ago. During that time, the hostage crisis was still fresh on the minds of all Americans. I remember as a child, being warned not say that I am Iranian, because people would think the worst of me and my family, assimilating all of us to savage terrorists.
Through the many years, my family and I, along with every other Iranian living in America, have strived and struggled through hard work, perseverance, and dedication, to make a place for ourselves in this country. We are now Americans, just like all other immigrants who have come to this land, throughout the centuries.
Yet, now I look around, and see that once again, we are faced with the same prejudices and injustices thrown at us because our ethnicity. We have worked so hard. We have endured every ounce of sweat, tear, and pain to become part of this united land. However, now, our years of struggles appear to be for naught. We are still not accepted as Americans.
My sense of utter devastation is two-fold. I grieve for all the precious human lives lost because of this monstrous tragedy. Yet, I also grieve for my fellow Middle Eastern-Americans, (be they of Afghan, Iranian, Palestinian, Egyptian, or other descent) who are wrongly hated and discriminated against solely because their heritage.