Thursday, September 11, 2008


For some reason, I remember it being slightly overcast. Several times I have heard that the sky was brilliant blue, a perfect day up and down the east coast. But I don't remember it being that way.

I had just dropped my good wife off at the Greensboro airport so that she and her mother could go to California to a wedding. I was off duty that day and had to go to pick up some bread for a Revwar event scheduled for that weekend. Other than that, I didn't have much on my dance card, other than a very loose idea to run down a best buddy to have some lunch with.

When I am driving, I normally listen to CD's but that morning I was channel surfing the radio when I started hearing about a possible airplane crash into one of the World Trade Center building. First thing that popped into my head was "What kind of dumbass would fly into a big building like that? " As I continued to listen, what I was thinking was echoed by the disc jockeys. Then the second airliner hit the second building. It was pretty obvious at that point that there was something terribly wrong. I didn't know what else to do, so I continued on and got the bread then when back to the house. There were several messages on the machine, mostly from the good wife wanting me to come back to the airport to get her. The feds had ordered all aircraft to be grounded and she wasn't going anywhere until I got back there. I got back into the car and went back to the airport, still listening to all the reports, the shock quite obvious in the voices of the commentators on the various radio stations. By the time I got back to the Greensboro airport, the details of the attack had become more clear. The hit on the Pentagon, rumors of a aircraft going down in PA, and the constant talk of massive casualties. The good wife and myself were somewhat subdued as we went back home. When we arrived we flopped in front of the TV and watched the story unfold. We just couldn't tear ourselves away from what was like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

That is my memory of 9-11-01. I guess every generation has it's "what were you doing when?" moments. My dad and mom remember what they were doing when they heard about Pearl Harbor. My sister when she heard about John Kennedy being shot. 9-11 was my generations "moment" It was the time that our world changed forever.

I have a lot of thoughts about that day. First is the sheer numbers involved. It was hard to get my head around the number of people that were killed that day. Stalin, a man who killed a bunch of people in his time, once said, "one death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic." Sadly he was telling the truth. Large numbers of deaths don't seem to be real to the average person. That is why I made every effort to try to put a human face on the folks that died.

Another thought was that I became very angry when people compared 9-11 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was a military instillation, 99% of the people killed were military personnel. While the December 7th attack was totally against the American sense of fair play, there was at least a effort to act within the rules of war by the Japanese. Their target was the U.S. Pacific fleet. On 9-11, the only motivation was to kill as many people as possible and their target was civilian. It made no difference to the hijackers as to age, sex, race or background of their victims. A large body count was all they wanted as well as publicity for their cause.

I lost a bunch of brothers and sisters that day. Their bravery and valor shall always be remembered. There were 343 firefighters and first responders as well as 72 law enforcement officers killed that day. Responding to the call of duty, they ran into that man made hell, as most others ran out.

John 15:13 says it best,

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

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