Who could hate America?

It would seem appropriate to write a 9/11 memory today, the 19th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. But my 9/11 memory is actually my brother’s 9/11 memory.
My brother Bill along his wife at the time and their three children were on a private tour of the White House when the horrible news broke.
Arranged by Cong. Paul Kanjorski, the tour was in commemoration of the first anniversary of the children arriving in the U.S. from their native Russia. Irina was 10 years old, Masha 9 and Yuri 7.
The original plan was to adopt sisters Irina and Masha whom they had met the previous summer when the girls were brought to America with the hopes of finding parents. It was love and first sight. Then, during a trip to their Russian orphanage, the girls pulled over by his hand a little boy they called “brother,” one of the few words of English they knew. And just like that the potential family of four became one of five.
A couple of years later, after the three children could express themselves in English, they talked about their other little brother, Aloysha, who was in a different orphanage in Russia. So they went back and got him too.
But on Sept. 11, 2001, it was just they and the three children standing alone in a hallway of the White House after a Secret Service officer told them an emergency was underway and the tour was over. They were on their own to find their way out of the building and make their way to their vehicle.
They sat for hours in a traffic jam attempting to leave the city.
With the radio on they were able to piece together the events that had robbed them of what was supposed to be a glorious day. There was quiet in the car as each processed what they had been hearing. And then Yuri spoke. “Dad,” he said, “who could hate America?”
Today, Yuri is 27 years old and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He long ago lost the innocence he had 19 years ago on Sept. 11. In a way, we all have.

Ed Ackerman