The19th Anniversary of 9/11/2001

In these contentious political days, when rioters have toppled historical monuments in cities all across America, it is imperative to say a word about history.

In this Sept. 11, 2001 photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News, Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010 a World Trade Center tower implodes in New York, after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers. (AP Photo/NYPD, via ABC News, Det. Greg Semendinger ) MANDATORY CREDIT

As individuals, we bring our baggage to the understanding of the world and its history. That includes our memories, education, losses, gains, grief, joy, faith, philosophy, and yes, our knee-jerk reactions. Our age is also a player. Those who lived through wars or catastrophes will view things much differently than those wrapped in cotton wool, who have never suffered a loss.

An overall aerial view, two days later, of the impact point on the Pentagon where the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-200 entered, breaking up in the process. Shortly after 8 AM on September 11, 2001 in an attempt to frighten the American people, five members of Al-Qaida, a group of fundamentalist Islamic Muslims, hijacked Flight 77 from Dulles International Airport just outside Washington DC. About 9:30 AM they flew the aircraft and 64 passengers into the side of the Pentagon. The impact destroyed or damaged four of the five “rings,” in that section, that circle the building. That section of the Pentagon was in the finishing stages of a renovation program to re-enforce and update the building. Fire fighters fought the fire throughout the night. The Pentagon attack followed a similar attack, two hijacked passenger planes flown into the twin towers of the New York World Trade Center, on the same day, in what is being called the worst terrorist attack in history. The huge American flag visible to the right of the damaged area is a garrison flag sent from the US Army Band at nearby Fort Myer, Virginia. It is the largest authorized (20Õ x 38Õ) flag for the military. 3rd Infantry soldiers and fire fighters unfurled the flag over the side. Each night floodlights illuminated it. Search and rescue operations continue looking for survivors and casualties.

Those who have lost loved ones to wars or catastrophes will also view things differently than those who have never personally experienced loss. I was at work on 9/11 when one of my colleagues came into my office and told me that America was under attack. I went down the hall and watched as the news unfolded. Later, I started hearing the stories of how the events of that day impacted friends and family.

  • A friend’s father escorted out of the tower before his rescuer went back into the building.
  • A friend who had to walk across one of the bridges to Manhattan to get home
  • A nephew in New York who tried to donate blood but couldn’t because they were so overwhelmed with donors
  • My boss, who was in Pennsylvania on business and might have been on one of the flights, but had made other plans at the last minute.  The picture below is of the plane wreckage in PA.

Not long after, I left work to pick up our only daughter from school and take her home. Our family needed to be together.

Thinking about this in our present politically charged days when rioters are pulling down statues, and defacing monuments, reminds me that we dare not attempt to erase history. Whether good, bad, or flawed, history is something we need to remember and learn the lessons it can teach.

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