Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2001 - The Day that changed Everyone

It started out as a normal Tuesday morning.  I was at work and had gone out of the office to run an errand. When I returned to work, I was informed by a co-worker that a small plane had crashed into one of the Towers at the World Trade Center.  I thought about what I had just heard, turned to him and said that this was the start of something, not even knowing what would transpire over the next couple of hours.  He turned to me and just gave me one of those ‘you’re crazy’ looks. I proceeded to my office to check it out on the internet.  I did not know why I had made this comment but something inside told me that this was going to be a day that would change history.  Trying to get on the internet that morning proved difficult at best.  The log on was slow and much delayed.  When I finally got more information, it turned out to be a passenger plane that had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  The second plane had not yet hit.  Shortly after refreshing the page, the news reported that a second plane had crashed into the South Tower.  This was no accident.  One maybe but not two within minutes of each other.

I continued scouring the news sites to see what other information would be forthcoming.  At this moment the report of a plane slamming into the Pentagon appeared on the Fox News web site. This day was becoming a day to remember.  The fourth and what turned out to be the final crash happened in Western Pennsylvania

What makes this day special for me was that I was working in Berlin, Pennsylvania and the crash of United Flight 93 was no more than 10 miles away.  Why Pennsylvania and why an old abandoned strip mine in Shanksville, PA?  As more details started to emerge the picture was getting clearer and clearer. The United States was being attacked by terrorists who had hijacked three other planes and flew them into pre-targeted locations.  All except United Flight 93.

The passengers of Flight 93 were aware of the events that were unfolding that day in New York and Washington.  At approximately 10:03 AM, Flight 93 was no more. The story that would unfold was one of bravery by the 40 people who gave their lives to save others. They took matters into their own hands no matter what the consequences. 

As I watch the Flight 93 dedication today my memory goes back to the first time that I visited the sight. Hundreds of people were coming and going.  Some were leaving personal items on the makeshift memorial.  Others including myself were just standing around with tears in our eyes.  It was a moving experience. I continued to stroll about the gravel covered area reading the personal notes and remembrances that were left by people from all over the world. 

The last time I visited the site was in October 2004 prior to moving to California, promising myself to visit again. It was as moving on that visit as it was on my first of many visits starting in October 2001.  As I looked out to the area where the plane crashed, I cannot imagine what it was like to be on the plane. They were all heroes.  We are now ten years later and as a nation will never forgot the events that unfolded in New York City, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA. It is a day that will live in the minds of all of us.  I dedicate this column to the lives lost and the lives that were changed on September 11, 2001. 

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