It was a day like any other with beautiful weather and clear skies. People were heading off to work, school, errands, and the other tasks that define our lives. Then our world changed.
The first plane hit the tower to begin the attack. Reporters started sharing the story that an airliner had hit the World Trade Center and the heroes in the New York Fire Department along with the police heroes and the emergency service heroes started toward the scene.
As the story began to spread, people started to ask how a pilot could hit such a tall building on such a clear day. Then the second plane hit, seen by millions watching the reports of the first plane. We all knew in an instant that we were under attack.
President George W. Bush was informed while sitting in front of schoolchildren and he kept his composure, taking in the details and then leaving for Washington via Air Force One.
Flight 93 was heading out of Newark to San Francisco and it was hijacked. Cell phone calls to relatives from the passengers allowed them to know they were a part of a larger attack. Those passengers took the plane down rather than letting it hit its intended target. The motto, “Let’s Roll” was heard on a couple of phone lines as the passengers began the defense. Another plane hit the Pentagon and killed many on the ground.
All of us know where we were when we heard the news and saw the first reports. I sat in my car ready to head to work when I heard the report while listening to KMJ. I called Carol on my cell and asked her to turn on the TV. She described the scene to me. My students and I watched the TV reports throughout the day. The students created a sign for the fence along the road that read, “Today we are ALL New Yorkers.”
That day 265 people died on the planes, 2,606 lives ended in the WTC, and 125 perished at the Pentagon. However, we need to remember the people who ran into the fray to help. There were 71 police officers who didn’t make it home that night, and the ranks of the fire department was reduced by 343 who helped save 45,000 people in that rescue.
Since then, 1,400 of the rescuers have died from the effects of 9/11 and the toxins. There were at least 11 pregnant women killed that day.
I’m still angry at the terrorists who had so much hate for the country and our freedom that they decided to perpetrate such a cowardly act. They were doing it in the name of their religion. I hope they are enjoying their eternity in the depths of Hell.
The words of angst and the outpourings of the words of comfort have been said again and again. We need to remember that day as well as Sept. 12, 2001. The world saw the American spirit everywhere. Flags flying, people coming together, charitable dollars gushing toward the victims and families, and the attitude that we will not accept those actions. In the 5,478 days since the attack we have not forgotten the victims and we never will.
Their lives were cut short that day and we owe it to them to do what we can to ensure that this country is safe from attack. The veterans who have been doing their deeds in the Middle East since 9/11 have helped protect us.
May the victims of that attack rest in peace.