No chaos tonight. No mayhem. Only thoughtful and respectful retrospection on one our nation's darkest days. My male two legger wrote this on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and I wanted to share it with you now.
Where were you?
11 September 2011 at 02:11Where were you?
No, strike that. Where were you then? And where are you now?
Exactly ten years ago today, I was driving to work when I heard the news that an aircraft had hit the World Trade Center.
I had a 90 mile commute and so, as per my morning ritual, was listening to The Today Show on NBC Radio in my car. As I was pulling out of my driveway, Katie Couric told me that reports were coming in of an airplane striking one of the Twin Towers. This struck me as odd, but not especially alarming. I, like so many other people, assumed that a sight-seeing or small commuter aircraft had lost its way and ended up somehow not avoiding one of the two largest structures in the United States. It was not until the second airplane hit that I realized that we were instead, under attack.
I will never forget the moment when our National Consciousness was forever altered. In an instant borne of fire and rubble, we went from "America The Invincible" to "America The Vulnerable".
By the time I reached my workplace, the first tower had fallen, reports were starting to surface that the Pentagon had been hit and the second tower was in peril.
At this point in time, frozen in my mind as indelibly as any experience I have ever witnessed, New York firefighters were continuing to rush into the second tower in an effort to save what citizens they could.
Let's pause for a moment and think about this.
Having just watched the first tower fall, knowing that many of their comrades had already perished, realizing that the second tower had suffered a similar attack and was bound to suffer a similar fate, New York firefighters and policemen continued to attempt to rescue people from a doomed building. I have no doubts whatsoever that they were fully aware of their impending doom. Yet they chose to stay and try to save one more innocent. Just one more person that started the day simply trying to earn a living for themselves and their families
I am deeply ashamed to say that I cannot recall exactly how many people died in the towers that day.
I am deeply ashamed to say that I do not know how many of them were rescuers.
I am deeply ashamed to say that I am unable to recall even one name of the victims of this heinous act.
I am a history buff. I pride myself on the fact that I can tell you the names of all the generals that fought at Gettysburg. But can I even tell you the flight number of the airplane that struck the Pentagon just ten short years ago?
We live in a different world today. Strip searches at airports are common. We are not allowed to walk through security posts at airports without removing our shoes. Every holiday we celebrate is accompanied by a terrorist alert. The Fourth of July is a time of heightened awareness instead of being a time of heightened patriotism as it should be.
Our world has changed. We have lost our innocence. We are no longer the "happy-go-lucky" society that we were on September tenth, 2001. instead, we are a group of people that hide our nationality whenever we travel abroad for fear of violence. We have become afraid to be what our forefathers worked so hard to leave us.
We have forgotten that we are Americans.
The sacrifice that those incredibly brave rescuers made has gone by the wayside. They rushed into a building that they knew would be their final resting place to rescue citizens that had already been murdered by a handful of cowards. They died knowing full well that this was not war. This was murder
Now we stand in line at the airport and grumble because we must remove our laptop from it's case. We gripe when the TSA asks us to leave a water bottle behind.
Shame on us.
I am not pointing fingers. I am as guilty as anyone, and probably guiltier than most.
However, I realize how lucky I am.
I am alive.
I am free.
Today, I ask that each and every one of my friends, takes a moment to reflect upon one of the darkest days in our history. Please do not simply think about the event. Ponder the extraordinary bravery that occurred ten years ago today. Ponder the sacrifice made since then by the men and women in uniform, and by their families.
But most of all, ponder this:
Would I be willing to make the same sacrifice?
If we answer honestly, most of us (possibly including myself) would probably answer "No".
This is what separates the heroes from the rest of us.