When being American became real to me + “Radiant Angel” by Nelson DeMille (a re-post)

10626489_10204700495413661_3897024096552151071_nIt was 14 years ago, but I remember that morning clearly. I was getting ready to go to work and then class; Ted and I had been married almost a year. It was a Tuesday morning. We were living in Denver.

The television was either not on or was not on a news channel. Ted called me from work-at the time he was a chef at a country club. He ordered me to turn on the Today show. I rolled my eyes, but did it, not knowing what he was talking about. I sat down when I realized the first tower had been hit. I sat down on the bed and watched as the second tower got hit, and then the Pentagon. As they announced that another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, that it had been headed to DC.

I worked at Starbucks at the time, and I made my way to work. Baristas and customers alike huddled around the radio as we listened to the news. The skies were silent, and everyone was reeling and wounded.

I went to class, knowing that we had a big test that day. Everything I knew flew out of my head. The professor gave us the choice: she explained her son worked in the World Trade Center but had come home the night before for a Broncos Monday Night Football game on a whim, when a childhood friend told him he had an extra ticket. She was shaking.

She and I talked, bonded. I had friends that worked in Manhattan. Ted was from New Jersey and couldn’t get through to any friends who worked in Manhattan. He couldn’t get through to his mom, who had plans to go to Manhattan that day. We were both freaked out.

Later, as phone lines cleared, we started to realize how lucky most of our friends were. My mother-in-law was running late, and had not left the house before the first tower was struck. Ted’s friends made it out: one walked from Manhattan across the bridge to New Jersey. Another friend of Ted’s had been up all night with a sick baby, and had decided to go in late to work–at the Trade Center. It still amazes me how many of these kinds of stories I heard after 9/11, and I have no reason to doubt them.

My story isn’t much different than many others across the nation. But it is the story that changed my view of my world, and especially my country.

Before that I had been a typical liberal student. After that, and then kids, I became much more interested in keeping my world and my family safe, a conservative.

I realized how lucky I am to have been born in the US, what a privilege it is to be American. How it has shaped and molded me, how easily it can be taken away. How little some of world thinks of us, including some inside our borders. How the lives of Americans can be shrugged off.

But I also realized how beautiful it is when we as a country comes together in tragedy and crisis. How incredible it is when the world comes to our aid with love and prayers. How strong and united New Yorkers can be.

Despite the death and destruction, 9/11 is the day I realized what America means. It’s hope, and there are those that hate that. It’s the manifestation of freedom in the form of plenty for all, even those who don’t have as much as others (our poor live better than the poor in other places, and they do have choices and chances). America is the beauty of people who find away to come together in the midst of tragedy and heartbreak, giving what we can to help our neighbors.

(Of course, it’s also the freedom to rip each other apart during election season, but that’s another story.)

9/11 opened my eyes to what America means to some in the world, but also what being American means to me. I am blessed to live in a country with plenty, where we have a chance (not a right) to achieve greatness, with a little luck and a lot of hard work. I also understand in America everyone must be able to have their own beliefs and to be able to speak of them. And that we, as Americans, need to keep our minds and hearts open to other thoughts and ideas, even if we don’t understand or embrace them as our own.

America become more than just my place of birth on 9/11. I realized what it means to my very being, how proud I am of this right, how lucky I am to be able to live this life.

My book review today is a re-post review of Nelson DeMille’s Radiant Angel. John Correy, the hero of a bunch of DeMille’s books, is a New Yorker, and some of his best stories are related to 9/11. Go back and read the whole library of John Correy; to me it embraces both the terror and heroics of the Towers on 9/11.

I LOVE John Corey. He is funny, and sarcastic, and self-deprecating. But he’s also a hero, willing to run into a fire in order to save a life, or lives, or a city, or all of humanity.

And he’s wicked smart and incredibly deductive. He trusts his gut, and is always thinking. Plus he could care less if his superiors think he’s out-of-line, he’s always trying to do the right thing.

He’s a fictional crush of mine.

So I was really excited to read Radiant Angel, Nelson DeMille’s seventh book starring John Corey. You don’t have to read them all to get this book, but you may want to, just because John Corey is simply awesome.

The Premises

After John Corey’s last assignment with the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, where he met up and took down the Yemeni terrorist The Panther, he left the Task Force and took a more laid back job in New York with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. He’s mostly assigned to watching the Russian diplomats, a seemingly quiet job. Of course, this is John Corey, so don’t count on it.

It’s September 11th, and Corey, who lived through that day in Manhattan, decides to work as a way to honor the day. When Vasily Petrov, a Russian Intelligence Officer posing as a diplomat heads out to a party on Long Island at a rich Russian’s home, Corey follows, with his trainee, Tess Faraday, and another car of surveillance. Once there, Corey and Tess decide to go undercover with the caterers, so they are able to watch as Vasily leaves on a boat with a couple of other suspect Russians (one is identified as a Russian assassin/officer and the other as a nuclear scientist), along with 12 Russian prostitutes. John is sure this is not a party boat, and decides to follow his hunch.
Tess Faraday turns out not to be a trainee, but an undercover agent with either CIA or State Department Intelligence, watching the Russians for suspicious activity. And now they have it.
With the help of the local police and the Coast Guard, the two of them follow Corey’s gut, attempting to stop a “Radiant Angel” from being released in order to level New York City and bring America to her knees.

My Thoughts

I liked this book and I love John Corey. It wasn’t my favorite of the seven Corey novels, but it was still good. I wish we could have gotten a little more of what is going on with Kate, his wife, whom I have never trusted, but kind of liked. I wish her betrayal was spelled out a little more, and that we maybe got a glimpse of why she wasn’t there at all. It’s deeply inferred, but I think it would have added one more element to the story. But I’m thinking she will show up, in all her backstabbing glory, in later books.

Radiant Angel is action-packed and not that far fetched, really. The Russians are back, and the still hate us. And there are those with very long memories, remembering back to the time when Russia was the USSR and we were firm enemies in the Cold War.
As said, I enjoyed Radiant Angel. I’m going to give it 3.5 stars. DeMille writes great action, and I can’t get enough of John Corey. Please, don’t let him change, and don’t let some bad actor play him in a movie. I love the image I have of him in my head.


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