Downstairs, in Lisa Beamer's spacious home in Cranbury, N.J., is a coat closet crammed with things she never wanted to own. Large plastic containers filled with thousands of letters and postcards from all over the world, some addressed to "Lisa Beamer, New Jersey, USA," or "Lisa, hero Todd's wife, New Jersey"; songs and poems from strangers; cushions and blankets emblazoned with the Lord's Prayer; enough homemade "Let's Roll" mementos to stock a gift shop. There are flags and plaques and two Purple Hearts--each sent by a veteran who thought Todd had earned his. Piled high are videotapes of Lisa's interviews with Larry and Oprah and Katie and Diane; hundreds upon hundreds of newspaper clips; news photos of President Bush saluting Lisa during his address to Congress last Sept. 20. And, tucked here and there, are more wrenching reminders, like the shattered fragments, still smelling of jet fuel, of Todd's watch, recovered from the wreckage of Flight 93. Only the date, September 11, is readable.
Lisa calls the storage space her "surreal closet." Upstairs in her bedroom is the "real Todd" closet, where his clothes still hang, where she can still smell his presence. His softball cleats sit on the floor, along with an old sock she found while emptying out a suitcase. This is where Beamer goes to sob when the burden of raising three small children on her own is more than she can bear, where she cries out at her dead husband, "I can't believe you did this to me!" When she's run out of tears, she dries her face with one of Todd's T shirts. Then she goes on.
Lisa Beamer, like others whose everyday existence was transformed by the 9-11 attacks, lives in two worlds. There is the outer, public world, where she must play the role of hero widow, an inspiration to all in a war of good versus evil. And there is an inner, private world, clouded by lingering doubt and irreparable loss, where the only certainty, it sometimes seems, is death.
In a series of interviews over the past several months, NEWSWEEK followed four people whose lives, public and private, were deeply affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Two women and two men, they play central roles in the post-9-11 world. Beamer, clear-eyed and luminous, has become a symbol of inexplicable optimism and good will in the war on terror. Condoleezza Rice, the president's national-security adviser (the first woman to ever hold that job), has the day-to-day responsibility of making sure that the president is well informed and wisely counseled as he decides how to defend America from new and terrible threats. As vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace has a key seat on the war council that decides how to fight the war on terror--and whether to carry it to Iraq. And Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's "President General," as he prefers to be called, was America's most important ally in the war's first battle, the assault on the Taliban of Afghanistan. In constant personal danger, he is viewed by Washington as a one-man bulwark against Pakistan's becoming a failed state dominated by Islamic extremists with nuclear weapons.
These four people have distinctly different jobs and personalities. But they share several critical attributes. In real ways, they were prepared for the shock of 9-11 by earlier personal crises. All four are sustained by faith, by their religions or a more amorphous belief in a higher power and purpose. And all blend impressive confidence with a less obvious but no less important humility. This is the story of how they have coped--on both the inside and the outside--during the long year that followed the terrorist attacks. The funerals were wrenching, but what came after has been harder. It has been a time of grinding pressure, of brave faces and quiet doubt, of trying to control the uncontrollable.
Terrorism touched Condi Rice at an early age. She had been 8 years old when terrorists attacked a few blocks from her home in Birmingham, Ala. One of the four little Sunday-school girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963, had been her schoolmate. Rice had heard the explosion and felt the blast. She can still feel it, she says.
The memories of the Birmingham church bombing came flooding back to her in the months after 9-11. Rice is a self-contained person, in control of her feelings and, insofar as possible, in control of the world around her. At an early age, she drove right through the boundaries of race and chased excellence and accomplishment all the way to the northwest corner office of the West Wing. She does not bristle with edgy ambition. On the contrary: she seems calm and good-humored. She can josh and engage in guy-talk about sports, but at the same time her manner is ladylike--not prim, exactly, but proper and refined, as if she had been sheltered and cosseted all her life. In the post 9-11 chaos, amid the ruins of America's long-held sense of security, she could not, and did not, betray anxiety.
But she felt it. Rice is normally a sound sleeper, blessed with the capacity to go to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep deeply through the night to awaken refreshed--no matter how much stress or tumult surrounds her. On the nights of September 11 and 12, however, Rice slept fitfully. The images of the Twin Towers collapsing, and more distant echoes of a bomb shattering the calm of a long-ago Sunday morning, kept her restless and half-awake. On the night of Sept. 13, she dragged herself home, exhausted and wired, to her apartment in downtown Washington after 10 and flipped on the TV news to see a film clip of the band of the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace playing the American national anthem. Rice wept for the first time and finally slept.
Gen. Peter Pace was in Colombia when the terrorists struck. On the two-and-a-half-hour flight to Miami, Pace had "plenty of time to think about how the world was changing," he recalls. Pace, then the CINC--the commander in chief--of Southern Command, U.S. forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean, was slated to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon on Oct. 1. He had expected to be overseeing the development of the military's long-term strategy and weapons acquisition. Now, he knew, he would be in the middle of trying to figure out how to fight a strange new war.
Pace was accustomed to the unexpected. As a Marine lieutenant fresh out of the Naval Academy (Class of '67), he trained for jungle fighting in Vietnam. A snowstorm that December prevented his unit from practicing urban warfare. Instead, recalled Pace, "we watched some World War II movies." Not to worry, he was told. He would be fighting in rice fields. He was sent instead to Hue, scene of the worst urban street fighting of the war. When he arrived, he was informed that he was the third commander of his platoon in three weeks. (The first two had been killed.) Pace survived, "with a lot of luck," he says, and with a keen appreciation that "no plan you write ever stands up to the first contact with the enemy."
The Pentagon, when Pace arrived there to take over as vice chairman on Oct. 1, was turned upside down. The Washington national-security establishment had become risk averse after the end of the cold war. Pace knew it firsthand: he had been deputy commander of U.S. troops in Somalia after the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. "We were told to circle the wagons and not get Americans hurt," he says. It had been a frustrating time. "If people think you're going to sit there and you're afraid to attack, they're going to pick at you," he says. September 11 changed the Washington "mind-set," says Pace. "We were going to take the war to the enemy."
But how? There was nothing straightforward about the war in Afghanistan, either on the ground or in the E-ring of the Pentagon. No one in Washington, except for the CIA, had any feel for the Afghan warlords who would be America's allies against the Taliban. Pace found himself remembering the old "Spy vs. Spy" comic strip he had read in MAD magazine as a boy growing up in New Jersey. "This was spy vs. spy vs. spy. Who could you trust? Who couldn't you trust?" At the same time, some of the top brass had some difficulty adjusting to what they perceived to be Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's brusque hands-on management style. Normally, a regional commander in chief--the CINC--prepares a plan of battle and submits it to the Joint Chiefs for review. Only when the "package" is complete does it go to the secretary of Defense for approval. But Rumsfeld insisted on short-circuiting this formal, orderly process and getting involved in the planning at an early stage. Central Command's Gen. Tommy Franks was required to come up with "30 percent" solutions that would be further shaped and recast in response to Rumsfeld's probing and persistent questions. Some of the generals grumbled about Rumsfeld, but Pace says he welcomed the change. "The old way was ponderous," he says. Pace is more low-key and patient than Rumsfeld, but he shares the secretary's irreverent sense of humor. When Rumsfeld and Pace were onstage together for a Q&A with officers at the National Defense University, a Navy commander, a bit of a wiseacre, stood up and said, "General Pace, I have a question for you, sir. What question would you like me to ask the secretary?" Pace shot back, deadpan, "Never let a promising career stand in the way of a good joke."
President Musharraf made the decision quickly and alone. For four hours after he learned of the 9-11 attacks, he sat quietly in a private lounge in the Karachi offices of Pakistan TV, the state-owned network. Then he addressed his nation, denouncing Islamic extremists and placing his country squarely on the side of the United States. He informed some Army commanders beforehand, but he did not really consult anyone. His speech represented a major shift for Pakistan. Up until 9-11, Pakistan had been financing the Taliban with $100 million a year. A friendly Afghanistan offered Pakistan "strategic depth," i.e., a place to retreat to if India overwhelmed the Pakistani Army in an invasion. Now Musharraf was abruptly reversing course, even if that meant shaking up Pakistan's powerful intelligence service, which was riddled with pro-Taliban Islamicists.
Musharraf followed the examples of two of his leadership models: Richard Nixon and Napoleon. Musharraf is a fan of Nixon's book "Leaders." He frequently quotes Nixon's aphorism, "paralysis through analysis." Musharraf told NEWSWEEK: "I took a fast decision. But I did think about it, very carefully. I keep to Napoleon's view that two thirds of the decisionmaking process is based on analysis and information, and one third is always a leap in the dark."
Musharraf was immediately denounced as "Busharraf" by his many critics. His life was said to be in danger. He was unable to move anywhere without three motorcades--two decoys and a real one. And yet he appeared bluff, hearty, cheerful. He has been through perilous times before. He took power in Pakistan in 1999 because the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, put his life at risk. Sharif tried to block Musharraf's plane from landing, hoping that he would run out of fuel and crash, or seek exile. Musharraf's plane was flying on fumes when it landed in Islamabad and the Army chief of staff overthrew the democratically elected (but corrupt and unreliable) prime minister in a coup.
Musharraf has not always been wise. In 1999, he staged an invasion of Kashmir that revived the longstanding feud with India and this summer brought both nuclear powers to the brink. But he does not brood or dither. A retired general who was once his boss described Musharraf as "decisive and maybe sometimes too quick; leads from the front, too bold. Of the last three Army chiefs, it's said that the first had balls but no brains, the second had brains but no balls, and Musharraf has both." Said a Pakistani ambassador: "He's a man who looks ahead and never looks back. He doesn't muddle in the past at all."
It is hard to say that Condi Rice became more focused and intense about her job after 9-11 because intensity and focus is her routine. On the morning of Sept. 12, the White House log shows, she arrived for work at 6:05. But that was only a few minutes earlier than normal. On Sept. 10, the day before the attack, she got to work at 6:50 a.m.
After 9-11, the pressures, always intense, became grinding. She compares the war on terror to "an extended Cuban missile crisis." That crisis, which sent the United States and Russia to the brink over the Russians' installation of nuclear-tipped missiles in October 1962, lasted 13 days, until the Soviets blinked and agreed to pull out the missiles. The war on terror never ends.
The White House was a quietly anxious place for some of its workers in the days after 9-11. Some staffers, particularly the younger ones, were "spooked," says a senior White House aide. Their uneasiness was understandable. With airplanes crashing into buildings on 9-11, they had been told by the Secret Service to evacuate the White House--as quickly as possible. Some of the women had shed their high heels and run for their lives. A few were weepy or shaky in the --days that followed, and counselors were brought in to help them.
Rice tried to look serene, but one person, in particular, worried about Rice's well-being. "Have you been exercising?" President Bush asked his national-security adviser. She looked at him. "Am I that grumpy?" she asked. "Have you?" he repeated. She said she had been too busy. "You gotta do it," said Bush, whose faith in the restorative power of sweat is well known. Rice returned to her daily bouts with the treadmill and worked out in the White House gym three times a week. She went to the hairdresser once or twice a week. She projected the same aura of cool professionalism that she always had.
Lisa Beamer was a national icon within 10 days of her husband's death. She was wearing a borrowed maternity dress and she had not slept in a week when President Bush saluted her before Congress and the nation, and yet she looked calm and radiant. She was whisked from "Good Morning America" to the "Today" show to "Dateline," "20/20" and "60 Minutes." Oprah sent her private plane when Beamer expressed reservations about flying so soon after the crash. Backstage at the "Oprah" show Beamer had a tearful reunion with Lisa Jefferson, the Verizon Airfone operator who had spoken with Todd on the final flight and heard him say to other passengers, "Let's roll." To this day, Beamer is grateful that Todd's call was intercepted by the operator. "If it hadn't been for the divine intervention of the Airfone operator you'd never be talking to me," she told NEWSWEEK. "I'd be in an insane asylum somewhere. She was way better for him than I could have been."
Beamer says that she does not want to be a professional hero widow. "For every request I've said 'yes' to, there are probably dozens I don't do." (The American Bowling Association was a "no.") At first, her stardom was resented by some of the families of less celebrated victims, particularly those of the flight crew, whose loved ones were too busy trying to do their jobs to call home. But Beamer has soothed ruffled feelings with unfailing graciousness. At reunions of the survivors of Flight 93, she steers clear of the media scrum. Still, she does not altogether object to the attention lavished upon her. Deeply religious, she wanted to bear witness, she says. Her disarming--and occasionally irreverent--sense of humor gave her crossover appeal to both the religious and the mainstream media. Already wealthy (her husband made a fortune as a top salesman for Oracle), she started the Todd M. Beamer Foundation to help at-risk children (starting with those who lost parents on September 11). The $3 million foundation, whose Web site features an apparel shop, is now in litigation over copyrighting the slogan "Let's roll." She doesn't want mud-flap manufacturers and beermakers cashing in without helping 9-11 victims.
Beamer was braced for tragedy by her youth. Her father's death when she was 15 put an end to what she calls a "Norman Rockwell childhood" in upstate New York. She "seethed" until a church counselor at college sat her down and told her--more or less--to get over it and accept that God had allowed her father to die for a reason. She can sound stern and even a little grim about accepting God's will. "You think you deserve a happy life and get angry when it doesn't always happen like that," she wrote in "Let's Roll!," her just-published memoir (first printing: 1 million copies). "In fact, you are a sinner and deserve only death. The fact that God has offered you hope of eternal life is amazing! You should be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude." Beamer was writing about herself learning to accept her father's death as an 18-year-old. That experience, she says, has helped her understand that Todd's untimely death has a purpose known to God, if not yet to her.
In January, Beamer quietly checked in to a hospital to deliver her baby. She wanted the delivery induced so she would not have to face going into labor at home alone with small children. The baby girl had a shock of dark hair and a dimple, like her father. Beamer burst into tears when she saw the likeness. She gave the baby Todd's middle name, Morgan.
Rice's duties as national-security adviser include managing, or at least dealing with, the enormous egos of the president's war cabinet. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has never been shy about expressing his strongly held views. Some lower-level staffers believe that he does not always show the national-security adviser the respect that she is due. Rice, on the other hand, seems to find Rumsfeld's macho joke-cracking and teasing to be entertaining and his powerful presence to be no particular threat.
One might think that Rice's hardest job is to make the "principals"--the cabinet secretaries, the vice president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs--agree on a policy recommendation. Not so, she says. Sometimes, she wants to sharpen their differences so the president understands that he has clear options to choose from. While often philosophically opposed, the hawkish Rumsfeld and the dovish Secretary of State Colin Powell are not, by a long shot, captives of their own bureaucracies. They do not reflexively present a "Defense Department" or "State Department" position. Rather, they see themselves as pragmatists and problem solvers. If anything, says Rice, they can be too ready to smooth over disagreement and find a solution. The urgency of wartime makes them want to cooperate and present a united front to the president. Rice sometimes has to step in and compel the principals to air their differences before the president, so that he can get a feel for the debate before making a decision.
Last fall, as they met privately with Rice and Vice President Cheney and a few of their deputies, Rumsfeld and Powell had a spirited debate over the course of the war. The question was, should the Northern Alliance, the soldiers fighting the Taliban on the ground, try to take the capital city of Kabul? Or merely begin to lay siege? Powell argued that the best solution would be to "invest" Kabul, but not to take the city. His reason was basically political: the majority Pashtun tribes to the south would be angry if the minority tribes of the Northern Alliance appeared to be seizing control of the country. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, argued that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to stop the Northern Alliance from rolling into the capital.
When the war cabinet met the president in the Situation Room, the "disagreement suddenly disappeared," Rice recalls. "What happens," she explains, "is that the presentation to the president becomes much more orderly, the debate isn't as interesting and rich, people tend to state views, but in a muted way. You don't get interaction and clash." Rice doesn't put it this way, but President Bush was getting served a plate of mush. The meeting meandered and started to break up. "Could the principals stay behind after the president leaves?" Rice asked. Everyone, including Bush, smiled. Rice knew that she sounded a little like a schoolmarm instructing her pupils to, as she put it, "stay after class." But she has several times told the president, "They won't have a food fight if you're in the room." Bush "laughs," says Rice. "I don't think he quite believes it, but it's true."
All fall, Pace was at the Pentagon 15 hours a day, seven days a week, struggling to stay focused on the most pressing questions, looking for "the golden nuggets," he says, the information that would help decide a course of action. He worried that he did not have enough time to think through problems, so he began asking his secretary to schedule time to be left alone. He tried not to sacrifice his sleep. In Vietnam and at Annapolis, "I learned that when I didn't get sleep, I got sluggish" and made mistakes, he says. During the early uncertain days of Afghanistan, he would sometimes awaken in the middle of the night to wrestle with a problem, but he did not stay awake. At the Naval Academy and in combat, he had learned how to will himself back to sleep.
After Christmas, General Pace was able to start taking off most Sundays, even an occasional Saturday. He had time to ride his bike and tool around in his Corvette, his one indulgence (the battery had gone dead as the car sat unused in his garage all fall). "He needed a break," says wife Lynne. "He was getting stressed, quiet and introspective and not as much fun at home. Sometimes he was so tired all he could do was watch TV. 'Star Trek'!" she exclaimed with a laugh. "He thinks every episode has a leadership message." Only Pace's wife of 32 years, who he describes as his "soulmate," observed any change in his character and demeanor. To everyone else, including his children, he was the same confident but self-effacing, good-humored man. "One thing I've always noticed," says his son, Peter, 25, who is a captain in the Marines, "no matter what's going on, he has the same expression on his face." Pace wears an easy, curious, half smile. He seems alert and keen without being on edge. "Some people call him Dr. Valium," says Lynne. "He can always find the calm." Pace rarely if ever shouts or yells in anger. "He feels that if he loses his temper, he's lost the battle," says Lynne.
Pace, who was in vicious fighting in Vietnam, does not have nightmares, says his wife, but he does "grow quiet" at events that dredge up old memories, like the Marine Corps' annual birthday ball. Pace never talked with his children about the medals he won for valor in Vietnam. But he keeps in his mind the image of five Marines who were killed while following his orders (one by a bullet that would have otherwise killed him). When he was promoted to flag rank in 1992, he left a general's star and a hand-written note under each man's name, carved in the wall of the Vietnam Memorial. "I'm not overly religious, but I believe I lived for a reason," he says. He will remain a Marine, he says, "until someone tells me I have to go." Pace tries to attend church every Sunday. "I always ask for two things. The first is the wisdom to know the right thing to do and the second is the courage to do it."
Musharraf is an obvious target for assassination. "The threat to his life is very real," says Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Durrani, a former Army chief of staff, who says that his Army colleagues have "breathed a sigh of relief" that Musharraf has not been killed--yet. He was probably saved once by the technical incompetence of terrorists. When Pakistan police caught some extremists who had attacked the U.S. Consulate in June with a car bomb, they confessed that the bomb was originally intended for Musharraf as his motorcade went down a Karachi street. The bomb had failed to detonate. Musharraf is more worried about getting killed by a political rival on the inside than by an extremist. "He is keenly aware that the real danger to him comes from assassins within the ranks," says a political appointee.
Yet Musharraf insists that his real worry is his expanding waistline. "I've got to keep exercising," he told NEWSWEEK last winter, "or this will get out of control." He clapped both his hands over his stomach. Under pressure from his doctor and family, he gave up the game of squash, deemed too strenuous (Musharraf turned 59 in August), and took up a more sedate game of tennis. Now he frets that he won't cut a good figure in his uniform. His mother, Zareem, says that he decided long ago that he wanted to be a soldier because he loved the dress-up part of military life. "I wanted him to join the Army, and he was very fascinated by the uniforms," she says.
Musharraf can seem as vain as the peacocks who are given free rein of Army House, the Islamabad headquarters of the Army chief of staff where Musharraf still resides. Though he likes to say that he is "democratic," he rules like an autocrat. But in a larger sense, he is humble. He is surrounded by problems: his country is an economic-disaster area, and in elections this fall, he may lose control of the Legislature. Though he has fiddled with the Pakistan Constitution to give himself the power to correct legislative "mistakes," his legitimacy could become shaky. Washington is warning him not to overplay his hand and create a backlash. If rioting breaks out and the Army has to step in, Musharraf could be ousted by his fellow generals. And yet he seems perfectly calm. His ascendancy, he knows, was largely an accident, the result of a failed attempt to kill him. Even his mother did not expect him to rise above the rank of brigadier. Now Musharraf seems to accept fate. His wife, Sehba, who almost died with him when Nawaz Sharif tried to stop their plane from landing three years ago, says: "We believe life is in God's hands, especially after what happened on that plane--that really gave me this sense of destiny. We're both fatalists."
A minister's daughter, Rice prays on her knees every night and offers "little prayers all the time," she says. The prayers are more general than specific. "It's not as if you ask God, 'Should we try to take down the Taliban?' " she adds. One of her favorite prayers is to ask God "that I walk in Your way and not my own." On the first weekend after September 11, when the president's top advisers were meeting at Camp David, it had comforted Rice to sing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow (And I Know He Watches Me)" and "Amazing Grace" while Attorney General John Ashcroft accompanied her on the piano.
Rice finds distraction, if not exactly relaxation, by playing the piano herself. She had, at one time, practiced to be a concert pianist (as well as a figure-skating champion, another pastime not generally associated with black girls growing up in the Deep South in the late 1950s and early '60s). During the midst of the "rolling crises" of the war on terror last winter, she agreed to accompany cellist Yo-Yo Ma in concert at Constitution Hall. She practiced for an hour or two at a piano at Camp David between meetings about the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan one weekend, and rehearsed with Ma the night before the concert. She was in the midst of one crisis or another at about 2:30 on the day of her concert, when her deputy, Steve Hadley, suggested that, in light of the fact she was going to be playing the piano onstage before 2,500 people and the president in a couple of hours, she might want to get ready. "It's all fine," she blithely replied. That evening, having performed flawlessly, she appeared in Hadley's doorway, still dressed in her gown. "What's happening?" she inquired, as if she had just stepped out for coffee.
As he is driven to the Pentagon every morning at 6 o'clock, Pace reads the "Early Bird," a Defense Department summary of the morning papers and broadcast news, mostly, he says, "to see what's still secret." In May, Pace was surprised to read a story under the byline of Thomas E. Ricks, the highly respected defense correspondent of The Washington Post, quoting sources saying that the Joint Chiefs were opposed to military action against Iraq. The article suggested that the chiefs were resisting a strong push by the civilian leadership at Defense to remove Saddam Hussein by military force, including a full-scale invasion if necessary. "That story was inaccurate," says Pace. "There is not some great divide between the civilian and military leadership over war planning. There have been open discussions: do we need more or less airplanes or soldiers?" The goal is to remove Saddam's regime "as fast as possible with as few casualties as possible." No one among the chiefs is "saying full stop," says Pace. (The Post stands by its story.) What caused the leak suggesting otherwise? Pace claims that all the chiefs have "looked each other in the eye" and agreed that no one is holding back a dissenting opinion. Rather, he suspects that down the chain of command, "the flavor and tone and the glib comments" made by the chiefs in "the Tank," their Pentagon meeting room, "get twisted and turned."
At home, Pace never discusses his role in the war on terror--in Iraq or any other front. "We don't talk about it, which is odd, because we always talked about his work before. He's talked enough at work, I guess," says Lynne. "It's harder than it used to be." Lynne cannot help but worry about a terrorist attack close to home. For the first time in seven years, she has all her family living close by, but she worries they could be targets. "Chances are not that low. Chances are pretty high something will happen here." Pace has a security detail much of the time. "He had security when he traveled in South America. I got used to it. But to have to have security here bothers me." His daughter Tiffany, 23, says that in the event of a WMD attack on Washington, the four Paces have agreed to try to meet at a certain location. "But we don't know how it will affect the two Marines in the family," says Tiffany, an accountant in Washington.
Son Peter Jr. is stationed at the Washington Marine barracks, but he could be sent abroad to fight a hot war. To do their duties, father and son, who are close, must stand apart. Peter Jr. knows he must step out of the shadow of his highly decorated father, and General Pace knows that he may have to make decisions that could send his son onto a battlefield wreathed in chemical or biological toxins. Pace is well aware that before too long American troops could be engaged in street fighting. "I know how difficult fighting in cities is," he says, remembering his own initiation into combat. Asked what images come to mind, he answers, slowly, "Lots of dead people. Lots of chaos. Being shot at from lots of different directions at the same time." Pace's voice is uncharacteristically somber. If President Bush gives the order, Pace will salute and send soldiers into combat. But he will do everything he can to make sure those soldiers are better prepared than the green lieutenant who arrived in Hue almost 35 years ago.
When she's not "on," Beamer seems smaller and worn down. "I don't feel any particular accomplishment for having made it through the first year," she says. "I made it through the first set of birthdays, the first Christmas, the anniversary, but there's still going to be the second Christmas and the second September 11. This is something that I live with every day." Beamer meets every Wednesday night with a support group of spouses of victims of the 9-11 attacks. "The thing people don't realize about Lisa is that she's devastated," says Jill Goldstein, whose husband, Steve, died in the World Trade Center and who has become a close friend of Beamer's. "The public role is something separate. No one knows what the private moments are like." Beamer and Goldstein started meeting on Monday nights for dinner at 6, what Beamer calls the "ugliest time of the day, when you realize he is not coming home." They cry with each other and try to find some refuge in black humor. They coach each other on coping with the daily pains they suffer while raising children--what to do on Father's Day, how to avoid the condescending efforts of male friends to bestow too much attention on their sons, how to avoid crying at another child's birthday party, when the kids all start babbling on toy cell phones and their mothers say, "Talk to Daddy, talk to Daddy," how long they should continue to wear their wedding rings.
They joke about the incomprehensibility of dating again, someday. "Right now, when we talk about it, we just want to throw up," says Goldstein. Both women find it a struggle to maintain their relationship with their married friends. "It's like you are from a different planet," says Goldstein. Once a week Lisa and Jill try to go out on a "date" with each other. Recently the two women attended the opening night of a Bruce Springsteen tour in Asbury Park. They laughed about how cute Springsteen was. Beamer was sure he was Jewish and told Jill, "He's all yours." Then Springsteen began to sing a ballad called "You're Missing." Goldstein began to sob. Lisa Beamer slid out of her seat and put an arm around her friend.