A 23-year-old American girl, weighing less than 150 pounds, stood before an American-made Caterpillar bulldozer that weighed more than nine tons. Both were gifts from America to the state of Israel.
Both stood, head high, facing each other.
One stood to stop the destruction and the other to cause it.
It was a late spring afternoon with the sun still blazing, and the desert breeze gently causing sand and trees to dance.
The American girl, from Olympia, Wash., had gone to the area to help the people in need. She did not speak their language, nor did she know the people whom she was helping. But she was a true American who was willing to go places, even faraway places, to help desperate people.
On this fateful day, March 16, 2003, she stood in front of a physician's home wearing a bright red fluorescent jacket, with a bullhorn in hand. It was also the home of the physician's wife and their three young children.
Some of her friends were around her. Some were taking photographs of her courageous behavior, while others hung around for moral support.
With her bright red fluorescent jacket she was clearly visible to all.
With her bullhorn she could be easily heard. Just like President Bush when he visited ground zero.
Coward makes a move
The giant American Caterpillar bulldozer facing this petite American girl could not move. They were both at a standstill -- when, suddenly the bulldozer jerked and the ground trembled. The wind, sand and trees stopped their dance. In the driver's seat of the bulldozer was a cowardly man whose strength came from the giant nine-ton machine.
The bulldozer kept nudging forward, but this American woman stood her ground. She was there to save the home of a physician, a person who had taken an oath to save other people's lives, a person who had done much for humanity.
In a few seconds, this American-made machine with its mighty blade crushed the physical body of this young 23-year-old American woman.
As her friends and supporters rushed to help her, she must have smiled, as she was in the same area where Jesus of Nazareth had earlier walked, preached and suffered. She was in the same biblical land where so many prophets had roamed to bring a message of hope and peace.
As she lay there in the arms of her friends, little did she know that more than a billion people would pray for her. Little did she know that more than a billion people would curse that cowardly man who had murdered her. Little did she know that she would cause Jews, Christians and Muslims to come together and rally around her. Little did she know how she would influence so many lives.
She was rushed to a hospital in the Gaza Strip, but she died in a short time of massive trauma to her head, body and limbs.
The name of this young American woman was Rachel Aliene Corrie. She is truly a modern-day American heroine. She is no longer with us, but she will live forever in our hearts.
Shalom, Peace, Salaam -- May God give us all the strength to spread the beacon of hope that Rachel Corrie lit!
Aziz Ahsan, of Hopewell Junction, was fortunate enough to come out alive after the collapse of the World Trade Center's South Tower.