mid the rubble and debris left at the site of the World Trade Center are much more personal items than steel beams and concrete blocks being carted away by the truckload.
Consider the signed baseball that adorned an office worker's desk. Think about the photo ID cards worn around the necks of all the employees who made their bread and butter in the towers. How disconcerting it must be for the clean-up crew to find dollar bills and quarters, family photos and wallets among the wreckage.
But that's what's left.
The rest is memory and past-tense.
A glance at the future and America's stand against terrorism being waged at home and abroad can be found in Steven Emerson's book, "American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us." Within the pages of this volume are the nuggets of perhaps what led us to Sept. 11.
But, don't be confused, "American Jihad" does not sugar-coat the issue. Witness the book's subtitle, which it only confirms by outlining exactly who these terrorists are, how they infiltrated American soil and why they want revenge on the American people. And, believe it or not, it all begins quite innocently - one or two radical Muslims entered the country on legal visas, gaining access to the mosques and influencing the membership with their fundamentalist ideas.
Before long, the web of radical thinking grows to encompass mosques from New York to California and most of the states in between - until finally, the churches are raising money for umbrella organizations, the primary purpose of which is promoting and funding terrorism. Interestingly enough, the book details just how zealous these terrorists are - death is the only option when fighting for Allah, and the organizations that fund the families of the martyrs are vital to the success of these operations.
The facts contained in "American Jihad" are stunningly important to a nation whose citizens are fighting an enigmatic enemy, but, unfortunately, the message gets bogged down in the countless names, organizations and acronyms that litter the chapters. The only ones that may ring a bell to most readers are, of course, Osama bin Laden, the most infamous and notorious terrorist of our time, and his al-Quaeda network.
Others, such as MAYA, CAIR and AIG get lost in the jumble, and their importance in the big scheme of things is lost. Only in the appendices at the book's end do some of these conundrums find a resolution.
Despite that hang-up, the big picture can be overwhelming, simply by its very nature - these radical groups are in our country, they are diametrically opposed to Christianity and Judaism and they want to punish all Americans, regardless of their innocence or guilt.
In that respect, "American Jihad" can frighten some readers into the "it can't happen here" mentality, when, in fact, it already has. Granted, Emerson's tome is not the last word on terrorism in this country.
Instead, it should serve readers as a jumping-off point for those who want to learn more about radical Islamism and how it has become the norm, rather than an anomaly. It is, as Emerson puts it, "the fuel that fires the group and the glue that holds it together."
Emerson discusses at length the case of Sami al-Arian, a Palestinian professor of engineering at the University of Soth Florida who founded the Islamic Committee for Palestine, the ICP.
Interestingly, al-Arian was also chairman of the board of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise. Al-Arian will admit to no wrongdoing on the parts of these organizations, but ICP and WISE have been linked to numerous terrorist activities.
The author also makes it clear that people like al-Arian come to this country strictly to abuse the freedoms it affords its citizens.
If nothing else, "American Jihad" should give all Americans pause - pause to consider just how it is possible that the World Trade Center towers no longer stand, how the Pentagon was bombed by a hijacked plane and how more than 3,500 people lost their lives.