Today is September 11. Thirteen years ago I was living in Albany, New York and that day started like any other. I got up early, had my coffee, went to work. The radio was on that morning, and my co-workers were listening to the Howard Stern show, which was on regular FM radio back then. I did as I normally did, went in, grabbed my paperwork and started working and tuned out the background noise. I was working on a particularly sticky coding issue…when I heard something odd. The background noise of my coworkers suddenly stopped and Howard Stern was speaking in rapid fire, concise statements, talking about an airliner accidentally crashing into on of the World Trade Center towers. My boss snapped her portable television on and we were mesmerized. She kept the volume down, and we all listened to Howard Stern delivering up-to-the minute real journalistic reports. For the first, and I daresay only time, Mr. Stern was very serious. He could see the smoke plume from his studio in New York City and when he was talking about it, I glanced at the television in time to see the second airliner crashing into the second tower. This was the most surreal thing I had experienced in my life.
“This is not happening…I mean what are the odds of two airliners crashing into the WTC towers on accident within an hour of one another?” I thought.
Before we knew it, the city of Albany went into a “shut down”. As the capitol of New York State, it was a prime target. As far as anyone knew at that time, New York was the only target. So, the residents of Albany were forced to go home and told not to go out onto the streets until we were given the “all clear”. I recall, as I was heading out of work to go home, the silence of the air. I worked near the Albany International Airport, and airliners were always crossing the airspace above. This day, they were silent. Not a single plane was seen in the air, not a person on the street (I lived downtown, on the main street) save the authorities, for three days. I could go on and on. It was as historic a day, in my opinion, as the day the Challenger blew up, or the Berlin Wall fell.
For the first time since the British burned Washington during the war of 1812, we had been attacked on our home soil by foreign forces intent upon causing harm and destruction. Those of you who do not know of the burning of Washington can find some interesting information here.
So, today, thirteen years to the day after that historic day, I urge you to take time to remember the important things in your life, and how diligence is the best guardian against loss of your life or freedom.
I will remember:
The Astronauts that died in the Challenger and Atlantis tragedies
The people who died to found our Country and those who scarified so much to buy that freedom.
The people in my life who are gone now, my Father, my Grandfathers, who all volunteered to serve our country in a time of war.
Those on flight 93 who mustered their courage, knowing full well they would likely perish, and fought and beat the Hijackers, and saved untold lives.
Those Emergency Response personnel who risked, and in many cases lost, their lives to save as many people in the WTC towers as possible.
Those brave men and women who lost their lives in the Pentagon when the plane struck.
Most specifically I urge you all to remember, like I do, that our freedom was not free. It is a trust passed from our Founding Fathers (and Mothers).
As Ben Franklin said to the question: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
His response, as elegant and simple as possible – “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
US Marine Corps Motto – Semper Fi, dad. I miss you.
Non Sibi Sen Patria.
(Not For Self, but for Country.)
Old US Navy Motto
(This we defend)
US Army Motto
(Death from above)
US Air Force Motto
US Coast Guard Motto
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
(It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.)
From Horace’s Odes – and found on the front entrance to the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington Memorial Cemetary.