The Washington Times - July 28, 2008, 08:05PM



By Jeffrey Denning

Is it just me or do you also happen to always see the digital clock when it turns 9:11?

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It could be a.m. or p.m., but I seem to notice it several times each week. When I see it I pause and take a moment to reflect on the images seared in my mind. It’s nearly impossible to recall the feelings experienced that day, but I try not to forget.

It has been said that the world changed that day; that time stood still, and that on 9/10 we would have never guessed, supposed or imagined the tragedy, shock, horror and surprise we each experienced on 9/11.

Just like the analog clock that ticks along or the digital clock that ever-slowly ebbs ahead, as sure as the sun will rise, after 9:10 will come 9:11.

To me that’s a sign – a sign of things to come.

Nothing metaphysical or eerie, just the facts: time passes on and nothing can be done to stop it. It’s an ample warning to prepare. It’s a signature token of the well-known calendars that cannot and will not halt, whether Roman, Chinese, Jewish, Mayan, or Islamically-inspired.

Most calendars rely on the solar evolutions – the position of the earth in its movement around the sun. On the corollary, the Islamic calendar (or Hijri calendar) is a purely lunar calendar. It is based on the cycles of the moon’s phase, unlike the most widely used calendar in the world today, the Gregorian calendar, as well as nearly every other calendar.

Forgive me for getting a little personal, but when pondering time and relationships, I can’t help but think of Ali. Ali is a dear friend and ‘brother.’ We met while working together in Iraq. He’s a member of an elite Iraqi Army Special Forces unit, and we came to know each other quite well. I trusted him and he trusted me.

It was sad to leave my friend behind. He’s been fighting a war in his homeland without break or reprieve, and without a foreseeable, definitive end. He wants peace…for his wife, his children and his country. He deplores terrorists and terrorism; they’ve killed those closest to him.

The last time I saw Ali, he took off his watch and handed it to me as a gift and token of his appreciation for our friendship. It just happened to be a digital watch, and more than once I’ve noticed the watch read 9:11.

Certainly there are those in every culture, religion, language and creed who are wonderful and incredible people – who would do all in their power to end the cruel inhumanity to man, and woman and children. Ali is such a person.

While the 19 suicidal hijackers were radical Islamic fundamentalists of the Wahhabi sect, it certainly doesn’t mean anyone who thinks, acts, worships or lives differently than us should be so ill-categorized. Patience, tolerance and understanding are needed before bulk stereotyping, self-pride or xenophobia ruins our individual and collective goodness.

America is great because America is diverse – a melting pot of different people and partisan ways which adds color and uniqueness to the fabric of each society. Nevertheless, there are simply things we will never tolerate, and terrorism is one of them.

9/11 was an anomaly. But I guarantee it’s not the end. Just as time keeps ticking and the moon keeps revolving around the earth’s orbit, the eleventh hour will come after the tenth. And then, for a few moments, our lives and our world will be changed once more.