September 11, 2001 - Never Forget
I've had this Allen Jackson song running in my head all day.
Those beautiful words from that 2002 recording give me comfort to this day. Of course, there wasn't much comfort for most Americans on September 11, 2001..
A day that will forever be remembered for those who witnessed the horrific events as they unfolded on that brilliant Tuesday morning in Manhattan, Washington DC and over that remote field in Somerset County PA.
I was in Abilene TX working mornings for the local NBC affiliate at the time when my coanchor and I first learned of the breaking news after a plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. There was confusion and a lot of misinformation. There were reports that it was only a small commuter plane and it was probably just an accident. I remember thinking, an accident on a crystal clear day with light winds?
I remember when the second plane hit and the immediate recognition that this was no accident and the realization that this country was, in fact, under attack. I remember being glued to the tv screen and listening to every scrap of news as they were streaming into the station. I remember this growing feeling of angst and disbelief of what I was seeing. I also had this feeling of loneliness. Despite being surrounded by a newsroom of friends and collegues I was a 1000 miles away from my family and my soon to be fiance, Lisa. I remember calling her that morning. She didn't know.
I remember the fear that spread through the entire station after the Pentagon was struck and I vividly remember when the first tower came crumbling down. I was, we all were, in a state of total shock and horror. I remember feeling totally alone in that moment. I simply couldn't process what was happening. I remember the many quiet prayers for the victims and their families.
I remember thinking how many lives were needlessly being taken? Who would do such an evil, heinous act?? What was coming next??? I wanted nothing more than than to be with my family and yet I was five states away and was bound by duty to help the station in any way that I could to cover this national tragedy.
After the second tower had fallen and news had come in of the downed plane in Pennsylvania my feelings of isolation continued, but a new theme was beginning to emerge. News was beginning to leak of the phone calls made from United Airlines Flight 93 moments before it crashed in the field over Southern PA. I remember the stories about fire fighters and police men and women that selflessly entered the Twin Towers to help save as many souls as possible, despite the growing dangers.
I remember coverage of the first responders arriving on the scene in Manhattan, and DC. I remember the stories of the heroes that emerged. I remember the hope it gave me. I remember the renewed optimism that I had, the faith in my fellow Americans to overcome this evil that was attacking our homeland.
I remember the sudden feeling of patriotism that swept the nation in the days that followed in a unity I had never experienced to that point in my life.
It was a unity that was forged by a common enemy. It was a unity that was based on the fact that we were no longer fighting with one another. It was a unity that brought both democrats and republicans together. It was a unity that reminded us all, that despite our differences, first and fore most, we were Americans.
I thank God for the first reponders, the brave men and women of uniform who ran into harms way to help save as many as possible. I thank God for those brave souls who rushed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93. I thank God that we live in a country that is still free to this day.
For the sake of our future and the generations to come, my hope is that we NEVER FORGET what happened on September 11, 2001 and the we remain UNITED as Americans.