The police chief
By William J. Bratton
SEPT. 11, 2001, primary election day in New York City, began as a picture-perfect day. Early that morning, I'd done a call-in interview with radio show host Don Imus, commenting on the mayoral primary and speculation that, after the election, I might return as New York City police commissioner.
Later, my wife, Rikki, and I walked down Park Avenue to vote. After casting our ballots, we headed back to our apartment. As I walked in, I saw on the TV I'd accidentally left on the now-familiar images of one of the twin towers burning. Rushing to my office, I learned that the second tower had been hit. Later, I noticed a fax from a client at the World Trade Center. He had sent it two minutes before the first plane hit. I did not learn of his survival until several days later. Unfortunately, many other friends and colleagues did not survive.
That day left me feeling helpless and propelled me back into public life. I had gone to work as a consultant, but I simply could no longer stand to be on the sidelines. I needed to get back into policing, the profession I loved and where I knew I could make a difference. And that's why I am in Los Angeles.
Upon my appointment as police chief here four years ago, I created the LAPD's counter-terrorism bureau. L.A. remains a primary target. On 9/11, I was working in the private sector — on the outside looking in. I could grieve, but I couldn't make a difference. Now maybe I can help to prevent another 9/11. I never want to feel as helpless as I did on that day.
William J. Bratton is the police chief of Los Angeles.
The Muslim leader
By Maher Hathout
THE EVENING OF SEPT. 10, 2001, I was preparing for a scheduled meeting with the president of the United States the following morning. Because our group would be the first Muslim Americans to meet with George W. Bush, I wanted my discussion points to be concise and clear, suitable for the rarity of the opportunity at hand.
After a restless night, I went to the hotel lobby in desperate search of a proper dose of caffeine. There, on many television screens, I saw the painful images of the terrorist attacks in New York that I will never forget. Needless to say, I didn't meet the president.
9/11 confirmed my decision to retire as a cardiologist. From that day on, I have worked to clear the name of my religion, done what I could to fight terrorism, lobbied to safeguard Muslim Americans' civil liberties and tried to convince law enforcement that Muslim Americans are an essential part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I have also found myself arguing the case for a Muslim theology of inclusion and life against the false one of exclusion and death. Now more than ever, I'm certain that a huge dose of spirituality must be injected in our lives to make them bearable.
Maher Hathout is the senior advisor of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California.
The travel agent
By Alice Gokkes
CLIENTS ARE so much more watchful than they were before the 9/11 attacks, and news of a new terrorist attack or a foiled plot only makes them more apprehensive. They want to know what's going on in the places they're traveling to, which means I spend a lot of time researching current events at overseas destinations and contacting various experts to gauge the risk of traveling to them. Add to that client worries caused by heightened security at airports — fear of missed connections, delays, lost luggage. More than ever, I feel responsible for getting my clients safely to and back from their destinations.
Alice Gokkes is manager of Let's Travel Enterprises in Santa Monica. *
The TV writer
By Joel Surnow
THE INSPIRATION for "24" was John Le Carre novels and such movies as "In the Line of Fire." It was happenstance that Jack Bauer's organization was called the Counter-terrorist Unit.
I was in the middle of writing and producing our first season of "24" on the day of 9/11. The show was to premiere two weeks later, and there was talk of shutting down altogether. The network was concerned that the nation's psyche was too raw to watch a show about terrorism. However, after editing out a few explicit shots from the pilot, we proceeded to air the series. In the last five years, I and my writing staff have experienced the war on terror through our show. We've dealt with radical Islam, a ramp-up to war, debates of constitutional law and a host of other issues. It's made all of us — and we span the political spectrum — acutely aware of the dangerous times we live in.
Joel Surnow is writer, producer and co-creator of "24."
By Joanne Meyerowitz
FOR HISTORIANS of the United States, the events of 9/11 reminded us of the broader context of our work. We may focus on particular political movements, urban geographies, cultural trends, social groups or any number of specific topics, but ultimately we cannot understand the past — or the present — without some knowledge of the rest of the world and the contested place of American power and American culture within it.
In universities, the trend toward "transnational" history or toward the "internationalization" of American studies was well underway before Sept. 11, but the terrorist attacks accelerated it. My students now show greater interest in international affairs, and my own research attends more to the transnational circulation of ideas and to the effect of world events on American social thought. These changes may not be due entirely to Sept. 11, but they aren't divorced from it either.
Joanne Meyerowitz, professor of history and American studies at Yale University, is the editor of "History and September 11th."
By Kerry Slattery
SOON AFTER 9/11, we set aside space in the store exclusively devoted to books on the Middle East and current events because customers were hungry for information on these subjects. It was separate from our politics section. It has become the most important part of the store. Before 9/11, these books, mostly published by university presses, collected dust. After the attacks, these books, plus new works on the Middle East, were quickly snapped up. We sold the Koran, books on the Taliban and U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Noam Chomsky's book on 9/11. We thought this little section at the front of the store would be viable for only a few months, but it continues to hold some of our bestsellers.
Kerry Slattery is general manager of Skylight Books.
By Barbara A. Nadel
IN OUR litigious society, in which building owners and architects can be liable if their structures and designs do not take into account the possibility of catastrophic events, the standard of care after Sept. 11 has risen.
I generally advise clients and colleagues to consider several post-9/11 design strategies. For example, widening exit stairs in a new high-rise, and opening them to the outdoors rather than to a lobby, facilitates faster building evacuation and gives first responders better access. Laminated glass, which shatters in place, or blast windows, developed in Israel and widely used in high-risk facilities, offer greater safety because they prevent flying glass pieces from causing fatalities. Finally, to guard against the progressive collapse of a building as a result of a blast, more structural redundancy and robustness can be designed into the building. In basic terms, structural loads are more widely distributed so that a blast won't cause the building to immediately collapse, as was the case in Oklahoma City.
Architect Barbara A. Nadel is editor in chief of "Building Security: Handbook for Architectural Planning and Design." *The movie director
By Paul Greengrass
THE 9/11 COMMISSION'S report had a powerful effect on me. I knew after I read it that I wanted to do a film on that day. Last summer, as I was looking into doing a film on United Flight 93, the subway and bus bombings in London happened. That further motivated me to make the film.
In a sense, cinema flourishes when political arguments and divisions are deep and loud. Cinema is one of the ways we seek common ground. It's right and proper that filmmakers should join the 9/11 conversation.
The unique thing about the people on United Airlines Flight 93 is they knew what we on the ground didn't understand. We watched the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on television, aware that something terrible was unfolding but not really understanding what it was. Those passengers were the first people to inhabit our world today, the post-9/11 world. That's what gives their story such immense power.
Paul Greengrass directed "United 93."
The Arabic professor
By Ismail Poonawala
THERE IS a good outcome to this tragic event. Enrollment in Arabic language classes, as well as in Islamic and Near Eastern history courses, has dramatically jumped at UCLA. In the last five years, Arabic and Islam courses have been added at other universities.
Before 9/11, I taught an introductory Islam course for a number of years. After the terrorist attacks, enrollment has grown to more than 120. It could even go higher if there was more funding for teacher assistants.
Ismail Poonawala teaches Arabic and Islam at UCLA.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times