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Remembering 9/11: The Horror and the Heroism

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Today as we reflect back on that horrific date eight years ago, September 11, 2001, I must say that I can remember that day vividly. I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten and my oldest daughter had started her first year at University of Hawaii. As I drove home after dealing with a defiant five-year-old who didn’t want anything to do with kindergarten, my mind was filled with frustration yet excitement at the same time — a memorable time for any parent — elementary school and college.

When I arrived home, news blaring in the background as usual, I prepared to do what I do every morning, walk my dogs. However, my dog walking was curtailed by breaking news: “8:45 a.m. a jet crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.” Along with this announcement followed photos of a gaping hole in the building, which was now on fire. By this time I became glued to the television with no idea about the horror that was about to unfold. While later we would discover that this plane was a hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, the news continued and I actually saw the next dreadful incident that occurred at 9:03 a.m. when a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings were now on fire!

Fear in me emerged when the media reported that most terrifying message by President Bush at 9:30 a.m: "The country has suffered an apparent terrorist attack." I immediately tried to contact my eldest daughter directly and my youngest daughter’s school to make sure they were okay. I had this overwhelming longing to have my children at home with me — however, they were safe, with the youngest too young to grasp what was happening and my oldest in utter shock and dismay. My dogs became my source of comfort as I continued to follow the news.

The news coverage was unrelenting, reporting that at 9:43 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge cloud of smoke and prompting immediate evacuations. News coverage was in full force in New York City and the entire world was observing more of this horrific day and what happened next was so shocking and surreal that I could hardly stand what I saw because at 10:05 a.m., the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, plummeting into the streets below. Then at 10:10 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania and at 10:28 a.m., the World Trade Center's north tower collapsed from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.

What I observed that day was so disturbing and heart-wrenching that I could hardly contain my emotions and to this day I can recall the chaos, the smoke, and the most haunting images of those people who jumped from the Twin Towers to escape the pain headed their way. While the death toll kept rising, I couldn’t stop my poignant outcry for all those involved. The aftermath was no less disturbing as I witnessed the ongoing recovery efforts from what was described as “ground zero” at the World Trade Center.

Out of the rubble surfaced stories of the heroism of our police officers, firefighters, those of flight 93 and many citizens; the goodness and decency of the media, our politicians and ordinary people abounded; and the resilience of  America arose as we rebuilt lives, families, buildings, a city and a Nation.

What materialized out of the ruins of this horrifying day in our history other than fear was compassion and love, and Americans were united, albeit short lived, but no less profoundly. We should never forget September 11, 2001, the lives lost, the sacrifices made, the pain endured, and the tears being shed today. Let us all stay vigilant and follow the advice of Sandy Dahl, the wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl:

"If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate."

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About Christine Lakatos

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well done, Christine. Really nice article on a tough subject that I imagine never gets any easier. I especially liked how you concluded the piece.

  • I’m surely glad, Christine, you haven’t given up. Back in the saddle.

  • Jordan and Roger, was trying to hide in the “culture” section…shoot, you found me! LOL LOL

  • You knew we wouldn’t let you get away with it. Anyway, I’ll always support your writing – even if you’re dead wrong.

  • Roger, all that is missing is Zing, Silas and Cindy!

  • I’ll bring ’em in, Christine. We owe you a show of support.

  • NO, that is okay…just making some fun, since I came off a heavy topic! Check out Victor’s article about 9/11… very chilling!

  • LOL @ #4 (gotta love honesty)

  • What you need now, Christine, is Archie. He’ll make your site sizzle.

  • BTW, we had a brave gal a while back, Jeannie Danna. A great writer – do check her out in the archives. And just the opposite of you, on the liberal side. But the BC static got too much for her and she quit. I’m sorry for that, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see that happening to you. I do appreciate the extent to which you feel you must speak with your own voice – again, however we may disagree.

  • Beautiful, Christine. I am responding amidst profound anger at this very moment. My 22 year old nephew just got off the phone with me. He told me that he is on his way to Washington to take part in the FOX News sponsored protests tomorrow. I asked him WHY? And his response, “Because all those people died on 9/11 and now we have Obama, who’s Chief of Staff is a member of the Communist Party and they’re gonna allow sex change operations with the new health plan. We’re at war and Obama doesn’t care about all our soldiers because he wants to rule like Hitler.” I asked “where did you get this information from?” His reply? “From church, and our pastor wants us to drive down all night and teach Obama a lesson.”

    Well, Christine. So much for holding the memory of those poor souls in our hearts. You’re poignant notation of how we came together as a country in those few short weeks after these tragedies reminds me of a swift moment not long ago where we were a united country. As I’ve noted previously, the terrorists know that the best way to get to the heart of our society is by attacking us economically. It’s logical. We’re a consumer driven society ripe with greed and no national pride to speak of.

    If we want to return to a place where we revere those brave souls who lost their lives on 9/11 we need to remind ourselves that to date the terrorists have succeeded. They shook us at our core. They have collapsed our economy and we’re all scrambling to survive. While the country was coming together reeling from the tragedies, corporate pigs took advantage and profited from our misery. These very corporate executives should be charged with treason and sentenced to death. As FDR noted during World War II, no person should profit from war. Well, in the last 8 years plenty of people have profited from a war that was imposed upon us with no evidence. We haven’t found Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan may very well be a lost cause and Iraq is nothing short of our national albatross.

    The lives lost that day were tragic. The aftermath for their loved ones is much worse. We haven’t learned a damn thing. We’ve become meaner, more divided and the corporate giants more greedy. Along with millions of others I mourn for the loss of our comrades 8 years ago today. I mourn our loss of innocence as well. But what I mourn most is our loss of patriotism and country first.

  • Silas, wow, sorry about your anger with regards to your nephew. In memory of 9/11 I will have to take the 5th on that one.Thanks for your commentary, you are so articulate and it is so tragic what happened and I mourn with you…

    “I mourn our loss of innocence as well. But what I mourn most is our loss of patriotism and country first”.

  • Great job on this article, Christine. Although New Yorkers were hit hard that day, 9/11 was a day all Americans (and people in other countries too) experienced and we can never forget that;however, as Mr. Obama said, “Every year on this day, we are all New Yorkers.”

  • “Every year on this day, we are all New Yorkers.”

    Might as well be New Yorkers because all of us being American is quickly becoming a thing of the past.