Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2001 remembered

I can remember, like it was yesterday, where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. On that fateful and tragic day two American passenger jets, both hijacked by members of the Islamic extremist terrorist group Al-Qaida, were flown into the two World Trade Center towers in New York city. Another hijacked passenger jet crashed into part of the Pentagon and a fourth jet was crashed before it too could be steered into the White House in Washington, DC. To say that the carnage resulting in these attacks was widespread would be an understatement. Several thousand people were killed and much of New York city was damaged and buried in the rubble from the two one hundred story tall WTC buildings that collapsed. In the days and weeks that followed this catastrophic event panic, fear and paranoia set in among many Americans as our intelligence agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DIA, tried to find answers as to how this attack could have happened. I'm not going to touch on any of that.

I was at a Home Depot in Alpharetta, GA(north of Atlanta) picking up some cypress mulch for the garden design business I worked for when one of the store sales associates began shouting that planes had slammed into the WTC towers. The magnitude and nature of this event wouldn't hit me fully until I had gotten home from work and seen it all unfold on television. I was horrified, outraged, appalled and absolutely sickened at what I saw on TV. I didn't sleep for nearly two days as I had a lingering sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I watched the inevitable "blame game" begin to unfold as investigations were launched into how and why these 9/11 attacks happened. The how doesn't seem so hard to understand. The "why" also seems fairly easy for me to understand as well.

There are people in this world who hate Americans and the American way of life. They would kill us for simply being American. The first shot in what has become a long war was fired by Al Qaida on September, 11 2001. We answered back with a war against Iraq and an ongoing struggle in Afghanistan. There's no doubt this war won't end anytime soon as our enemy is determined, hateful, persistent and willing to die for his/her beliefs. Fair enough. America isn't going anywhere either. We have our problems and we often struggle to solve them but I believe we are still the greatest nation on Earth. I am proud to be an American and remind myself every week how fortunate I am to live in this country. To the American servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives defending American freedoms and our way of life you have my eternal thanks, always. To those Americans who survived the September 11th attacks best wishes to you as well. Those responding police and firefighters who threw themselves into the inferno of the WTC collapse to help others in need will always have my respect, admiration and gratitude: their selflessness and sacrifice is a great example of how we should all live and treat our fellow citizens. A new 9/11 memorial will soon open. I've seen images of it and it is beautiful, a marvelous physical memorial to those lost on September 11th, 2001.

I hope all Americans will stop and pause to reflect on September 11, 2001 and "never forget".