Today marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. Like the December 7th, 1941, surprise attack by the Japanese on Peal Harbor, the tragedy of 9/11/01 will live on in infamy. The attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC resulted in 2997 deaths the worst single terrorist attack in history. It was the first time terrorist took over passenger jets and deliberately flew them into buildings. It was also the first time this type of terrorist attack had ever been broadcast live on television.
I will never forget the morning of 9/11/01. I was still in bed when my wife called me around 5:50 to tell me that she had just heard that a passenger plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I immediately switched on the TV and was shocked to see tower one of the World Trade Center aflame. I watched in awe as the newsman explained that a plane had crashed into the building. Less than fifteen minutes later a second plane plowed into the second tower.
I watched in total disbelief. It was surreal. Both towers, though still still standing tall, were severally damaged and on fire, the black smoke pouring from them spread across the sky. As I sat there, the towers, symbols of America at her best, suddenly reminded me of two mortally wounded giants, once proud guardians of the city, now casualties of a major terrorist attack.
It was horrific! Images that will live with me forever. All I kept thinking was that America was under attack. Then less than a half hour later reports began coming in of a third plane headed for Washington. The attack wasn’t over! Soon it was announced that the plane had crashed into the Pentagon. and that a fourth plane was also in route to Washington. Jets were scrambled and in route to intercept, but before reaching its target the plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania, deliberately crashed by the hijackers after a group of passengers attempted to take back the plane. Modern day heroes.
Less than ten minutes before the heroics of the passengers on flight 93, the unbelievable happened. Tower one began its collapse. One moment it was there, the next it was gone, reduced to a pile of smoking rubble! I couldn’t believe my eyes! But by the fifth or sixth replay there was no denying the tower was gone. A few minutes later the second tower also collapsed.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I was in a severe state of shock like every other American who viewed their collapse. How could this be happening? How could terrorist have pulled off such a massive assault on the U.S.? I felt sick and shivery, like someone had knocked the wind out of me. And yes I cried. You see, just the year before we had been to New York City and been up to the observatory on 1o2nd floor of the south tower. Having been to the WTC somehow made the 9/11 attack even more personal. I kept thinking “Oh my God! I was there, I was there!”
We’d gone to Clifton Park near Albany to visit my cousins and took the train into the city for a one day whirlwind tour. We went to Time Square, Park Avenue and Central Park to see Strawberry Fields. From there we walked to the Dakota Apartments so I could see where John Lennon had lived and been slain. We then made our way to the World Trade Center. I remember standing outside the towers gazing up at these magnificent giants!
Earlier we had talked about going out to the Statue of Liberty but Tom, my cousins husband, wanted to go up to the observatory. They’d lived in New York nearly ten years and never been. We stood there talking about what to do. If we did the observatory we probably wouldn’t make it to the Statue of Liberty. I was okay with that, but for some reason my cousin seemed a bit reluctant. I will never forget Tom saying to my cousin, “Come on Doreen, we’re here now, I say we go on up, it could be a once in a lifetime thing!” No truer words were ever spoken. It was so prophetic.
After a brief discussion we all went up to the observatory 102 floors up. It was quite a ride! I’m glad we decided on the WTC. It was truly an awesome experience! We never did make it out to Lady Liberty or the Empire State Building, but we got to see them from the top of the World Trade Center and they looked incredible from the observatory!
I’ll never forget my visit to the World Trade Center, just as I’ll never forget the events of 9/11. Please take a moment today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, those unsuspecting souls who went to work that morning expecting nothing more than the usual, those who worked at the WTC, the airline passengers and crew, the heroic firemen, police officers and rescue workers who gave their lives to save others. Remember these innocent victims of our fight for freedom. Thy died for the greater good. Say a prayer for them and the families left behind. Honor their memory…