I know a lot of us are happy that the NFL season starts in earnest today, but let us not neglect to acknowledge the date. I always stand when The Anthem is played, and a lot of times I cry. Today I did for sure.
For me, in my 50 trips around The Sun, time will always be measured as pre-9/11 and post-9/11. September 10th, 2001 might be the last innocent day in our country’s history. The days since have been tinged with a lot of darkness. Still, we are blessed to live in the best country in the world, and I remain hopeful that we will someday come back together like we did on that horrible day 21 years ago.
The damage from 9/11 goes beyond those that perished that horrible day. The families of those that perished still hurt, the first responders cannot get those up close images out of their mind and many suffered (and died) from health related reasons for their bravery that day.
I was just reading a story written in 2021. An AP photographer took a series of pictures of a man who had jumped out of the North Tower on 9/11 because he did not see any chance of escape. There may have been as many as 200 people that morning who made the same choice.
A few papers ran the photo of “Falling Man” and then no one wanted to use it any more. Nobody knew who it was. He was a dark-skinned man with a goatee, wearing a white tunic that suggested he worked in a restaurant or food service and high-top black shoes, with an orange T-shirt underneath the tunic. Maybe Latino, or South Asian, or Black. People tried to solve the mystery of who he was.
They’re still trying, somewhat. The author of this article thought he might have been a 43-year-old black man, with a goatee and a favorite orange T-shirt, who worked in the Windows on the World restaurant in the North Tower and wore black high-tops, and asthma which would have been triggered from the smoke of the fires after the first plane hit.
But his conclusion was that Falling Man was the Unknown Soldier of a war that has not yet ended.
Every documentary I have watched on the History Channel that followed the events that day as they unfolded (there just happened to be a camera crew embedded with the NYFD that day), shows the terrible sound those bodies made as the crashed to earth. What an awful decision to have to make, and you could see the desperation in the firefighters wondering what in the world could be happening above that would make people jump.
I will remember that day (and those people lost) as if it were yesterday for the rest of my life. My whole worldview changed, and I experienced a sadness that I had never felt before, and that I still struggle with at times all these years later.
On that fateful day, I was serving as the Naval Station Pearl Harbor and Hawaii Region Supply Officer. After the attack I was standing next to the base Commanding Officer and Hawaii Region Chief of Staff Captain Hughes in the Operations Center. I noticed Admiral Conway, the Hawaii Region Flag Officer was missing.
When I asked the CO about the Admiral’s location, Captain Hughes replied Admiral Conway was afloat aboard one of the destroyers south of Oahu with orders to shoot down any aircraft which even slightly deviated from its approach to Hawaii and its landing pattern to Honolulu International airport.
UA…Campus of Champions
I will never forget getting off a cruise ship in the caribbean, St Thomas.
We were getting off the ship and went into the first store to look around. Over in the corner was a large group. At first I thought it was a demonstration to show making some jewelry. Someone walked by briskly saying some cuss words. As we approached we noticed a TV on CNN, live. As we watched we saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
It was a day that forever changed my life. The Dallas Cowboy insurance lady I was dating lost all focus about Us. She could only think about how this would affects her business. Never thought I would go on a Cruise, then sit and watch CNN.
About a week later (I was at Schofield at the time). My COL was a SF guru. The base commander had asked him to come up with a plan to defend Oahu (I’m guessing Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe were in the plans as well). He asked me to hand carry the plans to the CG. He handed me a 45. Told me if anyone (and I mean anyone), tried to stop me or ask to give them the plans other than the CG, to shoot them in the face, regardless of rank or status. I noticed two MP cars, one in front of me and one behind me, escorting me to the Post HQ. Once I handed the paperwork to the General, he told me to wait until he prepared a response, and had me in his office, facing the door. If anyone tried to enter I was instructed to shoot first. Once he had an answer, he handed me the papers and had me return to my Bde and give the COL the plans, with orders to shoot anyone interested. Again, the MP’s escorted me. Luckily, I didn’t have to
About two years later, I was sitting in Fallujah. I wasn’t as lucky in the year that followed.
i was working the streets of Little Rock on"routine patrol"(althrough there is no such creature or routine traffic stop)when the Captain at the Northwest substation called me in off the street…needless to say all off duty personal were called in or ordered to report at 6PM if not already at work…there was no knowledge what was going to happen next if anything…when i finally got home my kids were glued to the TV like they had been as little kids watching cartoons on a Saturday morning…my kids grew up that day and all these years later the daughter is aRN/Paramedic for MEMS as a supervisor and the son joined LRFD and is now a Captain assigned to Central Station/Headquarters…both told their mother and me that 9/11 made their minds up what they wanted to do in life
@luskimo thanks for serving the city I lived in for almost 10 years. I respect 100% the sacrifice police officers and their families make. What a legacy you have with your kids dedicating their lives to public service.
Heartfelt memories and gratefulness for those who put their lives at risk for others, and the care givers who benefit all of us. Poignant and painful feelings shared. I am grateful to all who share. The heavy crushing sadness of PTSD is real.
When I was in college we had a visiting professor named David Handschuh, who was a photographer for the New York Daily News. He was badly injured but survived when the South Tower fell on top of him. His retelling of it is probably the most gripping lecture I’ve ever attended.
Like Jeremy, I kind of think about life pre-9/11 and post. I was in high school when it happened, so an impressionable age. I think of it a lot more often than just the anniversary.
Sara was a Batesville native and a runner, so her parents and friends organized a 5K race in Batesville in her memory (and to raise funds for a scholarship for Batesville grads) for several years. I ran in it one year. Started and finished at Batesville High, but in between was three miles of hills.
Great post and thank you. Nothing heroic about my recount but I recall i was working at JB Hunt and a former coworker emailed me a link about what was happening. I said it aloud and no one believed it…then we all kept trying to search the web about what was going on and it was SLOW going in those days with the high traffic that that caused. Not long after we were watching as events unfolded in a media room. Surreal life changing experience. Never forget.
I wasn’t around when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but the death toll was very similar. The Japanese used 100’s of planes at PH. Whereas the terrorists used only 4 planes, 2 on the towers and 2 others that caused death & destruction.
9/11 was a day I will never forget & history from that point needs to remind future generations to never forget.
May God Bless all those who perished and those who suffered from that tragic event. RIP.