In response to the previous write up here, I'd like to try and paint a different picture.
Twelve years ago today
, at around 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time two planes were hijacked by terrorists and within moments apart were flown directly into heart of the New York City
financial district. Their target was the World Trade Centers.
On any given day, those buildings house approximately 100,000 workers.
Both of the planes left Boston Logan Airport and were originally headed to Los Angeles thereby ensuring that their fuel tanks would be full. Estimates have it that the first plane (American Airlines Flight 11) was travelling at 494 miles per hour when it hit the north tower. Moments later, the second plane (United Airlines Flight 175), travelling at an estimated 586 miles per hour plowed into the south tower. Within an hour or two, both of them would eventually collapse splattering lower Manhattan and the surrounding area with over 130,000 tons (260,000,000 pounds) of dust and debris, most of it steel and pulverized concrete.
I remember that I was in Columbus, Ohio that day when I first heard of the attacks. Like much of the nation and possibly the world, I remember as I watched in stunned silence as the buildings crumbled to the ground. I remember I felt as helpless as a newborn baby as I watched people (estimates are about 200) pitch themselves out of windows from 100 stories above the ground in order to escape the smoke and flames.
I remember thinking to myself about what I would do if faced with similar circumstances.
I remember being called to my daughters school to come pick her up early as school was being cancelled for the day. I remember she was in the first or second grade.
When all was said and done I remember hearing 2,606 innocent people from 90 different countries had died in New York City as a result of the terrorists’ actions. Another 6,000 people were treated in area hospitals.
I remember hearing just the other day that an additional 1,140 rescue workers and first responders have been diagnosed with some form of cancer as a result of breathing in the toxic smoke as they dug through the rubble in search of survivors.
I remember that my oldest friend, best man at both of my weddings and I at his, worked only a few miles from the crash site and feared for his safety. I remember trying to call all of his numbers, home, work, cell, all to no avail.
I remember tears streaming down my face for people I had never met.
I remember that a few hours later another plane (American Airline Flight 77) was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the heart of the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C.. It took off from Dulles International Airport and was also headed to Los Angeles thereby ensuring that its fuel tanks would also be full. Speculation has it that its original target was either the Capitol building itself or the White House. Reports indicate that the passengers on board had heard about the earlier attacks and tried to commandeer the plane back from the hijackers. This resulted in the plane crashing into the Pentagon building and killing another 125 innocent people.
I remember hearing that shortly afterwards, another plane (United Airlines Flight 93) was hijacked by terrorists. It left Newark International Airport destined for San Francisco so it too was fully fueled. I remember hearing that the hijacking was eventually unsuccessful due to the efforts of the passengers to take back the plane. Instead, it crash landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania killing the crew of seven and all thirty three passengers.
I remember thinking about their actions and how many lives they eventually saved while sacrificing their own .
I remember the eerie silence that ensued in the following days when all of the planes across the country were grounded for fear that there might be subsequent attacks.
I remember a good kid being sent off to war and I remember hoping and praying that I wouldn’t hear his name on the local new as the daily body count was replayed over and over.
I remember thinking about what kind of hell he had to endure while he was over there and I remember asking him about it when he got back.
I remember him telling me that he’d rather not because even though I’m a former jarhead just like him, I’d never seen combat and I wouldn’t “understand”. I remember hearing him talk to his fellow Marines who were over there and I remember feeling guilty about trying to eavesdrop on the conversation.
I remember the anonymous anthrax attacks that followed a week or so later on the heels of 9/11/01.
I remember a few years later in 2004 the terrorist train bombing in Madrid, Spain that killed another 191 innocent people and injured an additional 1,800.
I remember a year later in 2005 when four bombs were detonated by terrorists in London, England killing another 52 innocent people and injuring 700 more.
I remember a journalist by the name of Daniel Pearl being kidnapped and eventually beheaded by his terrorist captors. I remember not wanting to see the video of the beheading that the captors eventually provided.
I remember the bodies of four American civilian contractors who were captured by a mob in Iraq being burned, mutilated and decapitated. I remember watching them being dragged through the streets of Falluja in 2004 while the spectators cheered and I remember seeing images of their burnt corpses hanging from a nearby bridge.
I remember thinking that it hardly seems that a day goes by that some kind of suicide bomber decides to take matters into their own hands and slaughter untold numbers of innocent men, women and children.
Just recently, I remember the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon when terrorists planted two bombs near the finish line killing another 3 innocent people and wounding an additional 183 others.
I remember thinking that those are just some of the more memorable events that helped define my worldview over the past twelve years and I remember thinking how grateful I am that there weren’t more of them.
Last but not least, twelve short years later, I remember thinking to myself as I write this, when is it going to stop?