And it’s rallying cry, “Let’s Roll!”
9/11/2001 is seared into everyone’s memory as if it happened yesterday. Unlike any day in our lifetimes we each have unique experiences and impressions of the day, whether or not we knew any of the victims or their families personally, it was a personal assault against America and every single American, whether they lived in New York City, Omaha, Boise, Grand Rapids or in Independence, Kansas.
It was a deeply personal assault against us as a people and it shook this nation to its core. For some, it culminated in a sense of unity and resolve that lingers to this day. For others, it was either a fleeting moment or a well deserved comeuppance forAmerica’s presence in Muslim lands abroad seen erroneously by some as foreign occupation and perceived imperialistic dominance.
We have since had a chance to analyze, unpack and discuss the events with all of our amongst our friends, family and others in our lives. Friendships have been either solidified or lost based on our perspectives from that day.
Think about that. Osama bin Laden and his army have caused us to discuss issues, debate them, and ultimately have forced us to evaluate our relationships and friendships. I have lost many friends, or so-called friendships, based on our reactions to what happened that horrible day.
So be it.
But none of those sacrifices can surpass the sacrifices made on behalf of a nation that was frightened and angry that awful day by first responders, many of whom lost their lives. Their selflessness and courage has only been equaled and sometimes surpassed by the men and women who volunteered to march into hell at the nation’s command, entering Afghanistan and Iraq and other God forsaken shit holes places across the globe.
I am in awe of these troops, their commitment and sacrifice cannot be overstated.
We’ve lost more Americans avenging 9/11 than were lost on that day itself.
But you’ve done more to protect this country, its brothers, mothers, fathers, sisters than you’ll ever be given credit for.
Thank you really doesn’t quite cut it, but thank you, just the same.
I feel the need to share my experiences of that day and the days that framed that day. I encourage readers to do the same in the comments. It’s a journey that we all need to share and emotions that should never be lost.
On 9/11/1998 we were married and 9/11 shall forever be our wedding anniversary. We also take that week for our vacation.
Saturday, September 8
We flew into Boston/Logan from Richmond,Virginia looking forward to our vacation onCape Cod, a place where we were privileged enough to live at in the early 1990s for a few years. It was from that airport that the two planes that hit the Towers originated and I can’t help wondering if that jackal, Mohammed Atta, was scoping the airport on that day? I shudder to think that we might have brushed elbows on that day.
We got our rental car and drove down fromBostontheYarmouth, Cape Cod and checked into a beautiful little house overlooking Lewis Bay. Small planes that shuttled people between Hyannis and Nantucket pierced the silence on the half hour and flew directly over our house.
We had old friends over, caught up with the happenings in their lives, joked and we ate and drank to excess. Life was……..perfect.
The weather was perfect and it was an idyllic vacation, right on the beach. We had brought CDs for music and we never even played them as the sound of the surf and the seagulls was all we really needed. We surf casted off the beach and caught some snapper blues and even a few striped bass, although they were not big enough to keep.
Tuesday, September 11
Our wedding anniversary morning was beautiful. It started with coffee on the deck staring out at the surf, reading the paper, followed by a nice breakfast. The day was picture perfect. An azure blue, cloudless sky made this a board of tourism day.
We lingered on the deck for some time and then I went in to check the Weather Channel as my close friend Danny and I were scheduled to go out on his boat fishing the next day.
The television had not been turned on from the Saturday we arrived until that Tuesday morning. After getting an all clear on the Weather Channel I flipped over to Fox News to see what had happened during my personal moratorium. I’m a news junkie and it was all Gary Condit all the time back then (remember him and Chandra Levy?) and I was just a little burned out on the news after suffering through the 2000 presidential election, the recounts and the petty crap that Democrats were already throwing at our new President. The Clinton White House staff removing the ‘W’ keys from the keyboards. That sort of crap.
But, I’m a junkie nonetheless and I happened to tune in right after the first plane hit Tower One. I mean the initial report. Why did I tune in then? I still wonder. It’s freaky.
There was not much info at the time and some were saying that it was a small plane or commuter aircraft. Looking at the gash in the side of WTC1 it was apparent that this was no small plane.
Was it an accident? Was it terrorism? Witnessing the crystal blue skies of that day I was already in the ‘terrorist strike’ camp. My wife and I were transfixed to the television when we saw the second tower get hit by the second plane on live television and horrible things were unfolding before our eyes.
I was in shock, as was the rest of the country at this point. Any shadow of a doubt was instantly removed.
We watched in horror, but I stepped outside to catch some air and to inform the construction workers who were remodeling the house next door about what was happening.
Then I saw the fighter jets scramble out of Otis Air Force Base and streak across the sky southward towards NYC.
This all happened within a few minutes, mind you.
I went back into the house to watch the events unfold when I heard of the plane hitting the Pentagon.
My God. What else is going to happen?
Then Rose started yelling, ‘The Tower is coming down! The Tower is coming down!’ She was exactly right. The Tower was imploding.
Then the other Tower went down after not too long.
The rest of the day was a blur, as was much of the week, quite frankly.
We went to lunch and met an older couple who had been golfing before they had come to the restaurant and they had no idea about what had just happened. I told them that theWorldTradeCenter, both towers, were gone. They thought I was crazy.
We decided that our fancy anniversary dinner out was pointless as we were both freaked out and wouldn’t enjoy it. So we went to Jack’s in Hyannis for pizza. The joint was at its usual din until the Congress came on the television and starting singing ‘God BlessAmerica’, and all of a sudden the place went absolutely silent. This was a first for Jack’s and probably the last.
The bed never felt so good that night.
Wednesday, September 12th,
Danny and I decided that fishing off the southern tip of Monomoy island was essential for our mental health. Monomoy is an uninhabited island jutting southward from the elbow ofCape Codand is the most beautiful place in the world. The sandy ocean bottom goes from 5 feet deep to 80 feet deep back to 5 feet deep, called ‘rips’, that cause curls that you can see the fish swimming through. It is littered with ship wrecks below the surface.
But I fantasize and digress. I’d love to be there right now.
I remember the Coast Guard cruising through with automatic weapons drawn that day giving the eye to everyone on the water. Good on them, but this was a completely different demeanor from them and it was a precursor of the additional scrutiny Americans were about to receive in every aspect of their lives.
Thursday, September 13th.
Went to a local hardware store and bought an American flag and pole. I struggled to erect it on the rental house without making permanent alterations to a house I did not own. Jury rigged a set up. Saluted the flag and turned around only to notice that an elderly gentleman in the motel behind me watched the whole episode and saluted back.
I suspect he was from the WWII generation.
Saturday, September 15th
Air traffic had just opened the day before and Rose and I were in no mood to jump on a plane to head home. We talked to our carrier and to our rental car agency and we decided we’d just drive home.
All the way home, fromYarmouth. MA toRichmond,VAwe saw, on every single overpass on the highway, American flags draped from above. People on the road were nice. It was, at that time, conceivable to believe that I95 was actually a road that one could drive without aggravation and aggression. I don’t know when that civility expired, but later experiences on that same road confirm that it was a temporary respite. In fact, this pleasantness was so out of the ordinary that we altered our travel plans, which was to totally skirt NYC and hang to the west and to blast on home to safety.
Instead, we drove toward the city only to be delayed by a fireman’s funeral, which I’m damn glad I saw. The progression was moving. It was one of many, many more that would happen. At least this family had a body to bury.
I was also glad we did that redirect because I saw the smoke still rolling out of the spot where the World Trade Centers once stood.
We’ve long since retreated towards our partisan camps and since that day we’ve seen stupid trutherism, defeatism and ingrained anti-Americanism. I’m horrified that we’ve lost good Americans in the aftermath of that day, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard as they work tirelessly to protect us and they have had remarkable success.
We have not had a major attack for ten years, a remarkable record, although I fear that the political correctness that enabled a Major Nidal Hassan will ultimately be our undoing.