I never watch morning TV. I can’t stand all the caffeine fueled happy talk on the morning news shows and anyway I’d rather ease into the news cycle the old fashioned way – with a newspaper. But on September 11th of 2001 I happened to be listening to the radio when I heard a report that it was believed that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
I walked over and turned on the TV. I forget which channel or network it was but I remember the anchor talking about what was then thought to be a horrific accident. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes later that the second tower was hit.
I stood in horrified amazement. I realized it was no accident but I didn’t understand yet what it all meant. Then the report came in about the Pentagon. Finally I realized that it was an orchestrated attack. I wouldn’t hear about the plane that crashed in PA for a while.
I remember doing something I never do – sitting in front of that TV all day. It was like the earth stood still. I watched the towers burn. I watched the people flee. I watched in horror as others jumped. I watched the towers collapse one by one. I watched as fire and police rescue headed into the disaster area as civilians fled. I watched as ash, like a volcanic explosion might bring, cover that portion of the city. And I watched as New Yorkers fled the city on foot over clogged bridges.
It was a stunning day – an almost visceral feeling of anger finally descended on me as I began to understand the full implications of what happened.
9/11 is certainly a day that will live in infamy as we were the victim of a cowardly attack that cost the lives of 3,000 people. But, as is often the case with Americans, there were a lot of heroes that stepped up that day. And the basic decency of our fellow countrymen was also evident as businesses and individuals did what was necessary to help and comfort those who had been able to flee those towers.
9/11 is a day for remembrance. Not a day for “community service” or whatever it is that some are trying to turn it into. It should be a somber day in which we remember those who died, recognize that we have enemies in the world who will stop at nothing to strike us and redouble our commitment to protect our homeland from such attacks.
And to all those who lost their lives on that day, we should dedicate at least a portion of this one to their memory.