Today, September 11, 2012, marks 11 years since the attacks on America in 2001. It's one of those historical moments that most of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. I know I do.
I was the Captain at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. I was in a Warden's meeting until about 8:55am. When I returned to my office my secretary told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Not one to automatically assume the worst I thought it must have been a small plane that had problems. "What a terrible accident", I thought. "I wonder how that happened?" I also felt sorrow for those who lost their lives. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a full sized passenger jet had been deliberately flown into the building. Who would do something like that?
I turned on the TV I had in my office and watched the news about what happened. I saw the horrific scene with the hole in Tower 1 that indicated it wasn't a small Cessna or Piper that hit the building but a full sized passenger plane. Again, I asked myself.... was it an accident or intentional? If it was intentional - who would do such a thing?
I was watching when the second plane hit Tower 2. I immediately knew we were under attack. I won't say these terrorists were (are) cowards because they sacrificed their own lives for what they believe - something most Americans would not do. But they were (and are) despicable because they killed nearly 3000 innocent people - including Muslims like themselves. Such action against others I find unconscionable.
I remember the feeling of anger mixed with a feeling of complete helplessness. I wanted to be there in New York to do something, anything. But what could I do? Co-workers who worked in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York went to help. They were not too far away and were able to provide at least some assistance.
These days I watch the documentaries about 9/11 and see the suffering up close. I listen to the stories of survival and those of great loss and can only imagine how those people must have felt that day. Those people who spoke with their loved one(s) on the phone and in those planes just before they died certainly must cherish those memories and hate them at the same time. Even knowing their spouse's plane crashed they must have held on to the improbable possibility that he/she could be alive. It had to be the same after the towers collapsed. Loved ones must have held on to the hope that somehow someone could have survived. Some were never found and their loved ones have no closure whatsoever.
Today we remember. Today is not the day for anger at those who perpetrated the act but the day to remember those who died - everyone from the innocent victims to the heroes of the EMS system in New York who sacrificed themselves in an effort to save others. It's a day to ask God to help heal our world so that people can live with different beliefs without feeling the need to kill each other over them.
September 11th will remain in the hearts and minds of those of us who witnessed it, much like the Challenger explosion or, for those of us who remember that far back, JFK's assassination. It is the rallying cry for the war against terrorism and the rallying cry for unity in our own country. Remember how the nation came together in the days immediately following 9/11? Alan Jackson's brilliant song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?" said it best. People exhibited love and concern for their fellow citizens in numbers that hadn't been seen in America in years. How sad it took such a tragedy to bring people together. Even more sad - the fact that the unity has dissipated over the years.
Sometime today I would suggest that you take a minute to thank God if you weren't personally effected by the events eleven years ago, ask Him to comfort those who are reliving that tragedy today, and ask Him to bless our nation and continue to keep us safe. Let us never forget the victims of this tragedy and our unity in the fight against evil worldwide. May God bless you all.