crossing america

Stepping Into the Hole of Ground Zero

The Seattle Times
October 7, 2001
By Alex Tizon

NEW YORK CITY — We came here because we were curious. We thought the only way to understand something so enormous was to stand in the middle of it. After weaving across the continent west to east, listening to people all along the way, we found that ordinary New Yorkers who live and work at the epicenter had the fewest words about Sept. 11. For the moment, at least.

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Old Glory in One Field, United Flight 93 in Another

The Seattle Times
October 4, 2001
By Alex Tizon

SHANKSVILLE, Pennsylvania  — Before we talk about the grisly work taking place in a field just outside this old mining town, we want to introduce you to Ted Dorfman and his 15,000-pound American flag. Unfurled, it’s 100 feet longer than a football field, covering roughly two acres. Each star is 13 feet tip to tip. Dorfman bought it on e-Bay last summer for $12,500, or 83 cents a pound, which was a steal.

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Praying Deep in Kentucky

The Seattle Times
October 2, 2001
By Alex Tizon

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky  — The Expedition raced through the last of the High Plains, cut through the Great Lakes states of Illinois and Indiana, and as the sun set on our 16th day on the road, our truck rolled like a tired old buggy into this elegant Southern city on the Ohio River. Here we met a mother and daughter named Birdella and Ollie May Walls. They had God on their minds. And they’d noticed that much of America seemed to be thinking of God right now, or at least dropping his name.

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This Terrorism Crap is Highly Upsetting

The Seattle Times
September 30, 2001
By Alex Tizon

LEXINGTON, Missouri  — Suddenly they are looked upon with adoring eyes, these young men and women with ramrod postures and stripes down the sides of their pants. A month ago, they might as well have been invisible. Now they’re as popular as Old Glory, and townspeople go out of their way to say hello and to ask: “Are you going to fight?”

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Inner Warfare In One Man’s Head

The Seattle Times
September 28, 2001
By Alex Tizon

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Perhaps the best thing about the Dave Brockie Experience is that we don’t have to experience it every day. Dave Brockie, of course, isn’t so fortunate. He is a screaming anarchist with a bass guitar. His band plays “shock performance rock,” a mix of punk-flavored heavy metal with lyrics meant to make people gasp. It’s his God-given calling to offend, and at the moment he’s offending even himself.

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They Know How It Feels

The Seattle Times
September 26, 2001
By Alex Tizon

OKALAHOMA CITY — We had not planned to come here. What was left to say? But as the Expedition cut through the heartland on the way to New York’s fallen towers, it became clear we had to visit the only other community in the country that could profoundly relate. We traveled from the rural plains of north-central Kansas, which seemed farthest removed from the events of the past two weeks, to this dustbowl metropolis, just a few hundred miles south but infinitely closer in spirit to Manhattan’s calamity.

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The Geographic Center of America

The Seattle Times
September 24, 2001
By Alex Tizon

LEBANON, Kansas  — You could take a nap in the middle of Main Street, right on the gravelly pavement, with your belly button directly over the center line, and you would not have to worry about the morning commute messing up your hair. The six or seven people who drive to work downtown hardly make a stir. Throughout the day, the mostly gray- and white-haired townspeople drift through as unobtrusively as tumbleweed blowing across the prairie.

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God Bless My Gun

The Seattle Times
September 23, 2001
By Alex Tizon

FORT COLLINS, Colorado — The sign above Clifford Hamblen’s shop reads GUNS GUNS GUNS in big white letters that span the width of the storefront. He wanted no ambiguity. He wanted to make sure unsuspecting citizens would not wander in thinking it was a bagel shop or a Socks Galore, which are nearby. If he had an extra five feet, he would have added another GUNS to match his business card.

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“I’m an American. I love America”

The Seattle Times
September 21, 2001
By Alex Tizon

SHERIDAN, Wyoming — You know just by looking at his face that the past ten days have been much different for him than for most of us. He has brown skin, thick eyebrows, a handsomely aquiline nose over a dark mustache that curls around the corners of his mouth. His name is Zarif Khan Jr., a Pakistani-American and the head of the only Muslim family in town.

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Dissent Flickering in the Shadows

The Seattle Times
September 20, 2001
By Alex Tizon

HARDIN, Montana – Traveling east from Missoula, racing through the sprawling mass of Montana at 95 mph, feeling small and slow, ants crossing the Great Divide, we came finally to the state’s southeast corner where lies the battlefield of the Little Bighorn. If we were to hunt misgivings about the impending war, we’d probably find some here, or they would find us. This was the site of one of the nation’s most infamous military failures, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.

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