Remembering 9/11

13 years ago today our way of life and our belief systems were viciously attacked through a cowardly act of terror that claimed more than 3,000 American lives.  This one swift event touched us all in so many different ways.  Some of us lost loved ones as the planes crashed and the towers fell.  Others felt their life’s calling change in that moment and soon found themselves out of a suit and tie and instead defending our country overseas. 

For me, I still remember vividly being on a flight to the east coast early on the morning of September 11, 2001 when the captain came on the radio and informed us that we were to land immediately by order of the President of the United States.  Hours passed before my flight was able to land, be thoroughly re-checked for any security threat and then finally de-board.  During that time my wife and my two year-old daughter were in a frenzy, not knowing definitively if my plane was safe and if daddy would be coming home.  While on the runway my fellow passengers and I began to first understand the threat our country was under, but the picture did not take full form until I was able to find a television in the terminal and see it with my own eyes.  

There before me lay in ruins the twin towers that I spent so much time in as a younger man training for his future profession.  I immediately remembered back to walking my wife through the twin towers, showing her the offices I frequented and taking her all the way to the top to see the beautiful New York skyline.  How many people that I had shaken hands with, politely passed in the hallways, or shared an elevator with were now dead or among the countless missing?   What if I had stayed in New York after my professional training?  These are the questions that quickly overtook me.

That day our confidence in our safety and security was rocked to its foundation.  But more importantly, our firm belief that things of this magnitude don’t happen to such a wonderful nation was shaken to its core.  In the days that followed, America responded the only way that it could, with resolve for bravely demonstrating that those who would challenge our will cannot terrorize us into changing who we are and what we value.  We sent the clear message that no matter how hard we are hit, America will always be America.  It will always be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Among the many things this event taught us, it reaffirmed our understanding that freedom and democracy come at a cost.  On 9/11 that cost was high.  Innocent civilians and the brave emergency first responders who never once hesitated entering those buildings paid that price in their lives.  So many more died defending our nation in the battles to protect democracy that ensued.  Today we mourn their passing but in doing so we also honor their sacrifice in celebrating our country and our gift of freedom.