Remembering 9/11

The morning of 9/11/01 I was at work, it was a regular morning.  My dad was on vacation, so I had a few more tasks on my plate that morning. As normal Fox News was playing on the TV set on top of the Coke machine out on the sales floor.  My ears started to hear words about a plane crashing into the WTC in New York.  My mind interpreted the report as a small single engine plane crashed, probably into the antenna on the roof.

Shortly after there was a loud sigh from the sales floor.  Charlie, Chuck and Matt (my brother) all gasp, nearly at the same time.  I pushed back my office chair at once and went to the sales counter to see what had happened.  I was amazed at the size and destruction of the crash.  Now, certainly, this was not a small plane but a much larger one, this was bad.

At this point work around us stopped, our customers had turned to watch the reports, our delivery drivers who were in the building were standing around the TV as well.  I’m sure for some in the room there was suspicion as to what had just happened, was this terrorism?  For me, although I was 32, I continued to live in the naivety that this was just some horrible airline crash.

Then as we were standing, watching, wondering, we all saw the most sobering event of our lives, or at the very least mine.  There, right in front of me, I watched the second plane crash into the second World Trade Center building.  The innocence immediately went away. There was no doubt this was an act of extreme terrorism.

I can honestly say at this point, I expected everyone in the WTC to be safe. I expected our firefighters to shutter the flames.  I expected all day news coverage. I expected an honorable mention in the textbooks of the next generations.  But I did not expect what would occur over the next hours, weeks, and now years.

Shorty after though the news got closer to home.  We began to hear reports that another plane had crashed into the pentagon, some 40 miles away.  Next the report was that there was a report of another hijacked plane, and the Air Force had mobilized.  How many were out there, what was happening?

I immediately called my wife, who was in traffic, as normal on the DC beltway.  We discussed what was happening.  She decided to turn around and start for home.  We then heard from Victoria’s school, she was a kindergartner at the time (now a Freshman in HS), we should come pick her up as soon as possible because they were closing the school. I ran to her school to get her and brought her back to the store.  Meanwhile we hear reports of a 4th crash in Pennsylvania.  What in the world was happening?

Throughout it all we expected that it would end without the widespread destruction that occurred.  We expected life to be found in the rubble of the WTC, of course this was after we accepted the reality the towers would fall. We expected the walls of the Pentagon to have held back widespread loss there.  And we cheered when we heard of the heroic efforts of the passengers on Flight 93 , but our minds were riddled with what target that plane was destined for.

Meanwhile though, life changed in those hours. Our borders were breached, we were all now part of a world that could be touched by terrorism.   I won’t say I lost my innocence, but I did gain a cynicism that I still carry today.

My hat is off in honor of all those who had their lives taken that day.  My hat is also off to the thousands that have stepped up to the plate in the years since to protect the flag that is so freely flying in the photo above. God continues to bless the United States, the country I love.


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