How can I forget? I remember that day as if it were happening right now. As Pat said, I was the school resource officer where Pat was teaching (a couple of years before Pat and I started dating), and I had the radio on in my office. A report came over the air stating that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. OK, it had to be some idgit who flew his Cessna into the building. I remembered a story I heard about a American bomber crashing into the Empire State Building during WWII. This had be like that incident, Right?
I quickly went the the school library, so I could watch the reports on televsion. What I saw on tv shocked me. One of the towers was belching smoke from a huge gaping hole in its side. Then shortly thereafter they were showing the second plane striking the other tower. Even though I was over 1000 miles away, I was watching the murders of thousands of people.
I was in the Army Reserve then, and because of my job in the reserves, I knew immediately who and what was responsible for this dastardly act. I guess my shock and anger was too much to control. Pat says she remembers me sitting in front of the tv, and I had this shocked and very angry look on my face. I don't remember me saying anything, but Pat says I was sitting there mumbling, "Those damned Ragheads." "That damned Osama Bin Laden." "I know I'm going to get called up."
Eventually my unit was called up, and I ended up spending two years on active duty with the Army. Something I do not regret. Sometimes I feel I wish I could have done more. I was assigned to Ft Polk, Louisiana (that's where Uncle Sam wanted me and that's where I went.) But deep down I feel like I could have done more, there is some regret that I wasn't assigned in Iraq or Afghanistan.
One of my best friends, former roommate, and buddy from my Air Force days, Bob, who is a preacher in the New York area, and a chaplain with the New York Air Guard, called me a couple of days after 9-11. Bob was sent to Ground Zero to console rescue workers and people who lost loved ones.
One of the saddest things Bob told me was people who lost loved ones in the towers were walking around with pictures of their loved one and asking rescue workers if they had seen their loved one.
Pat knows what it's like when Bob and I are together. It's almost non-stop laughter. But one night (about two or three days after the attack) Bob called. The tone was different, and I could tell Bob was in distress. He was aboard a U.S. Navy hospital ship (I beleive he said was docked near Randalls Island) that had been sent to assist in the aftermath. He was almost in tears telling me what he was going through.
Bob said his roommate on the ship was a guy who worked with rescue dogs. He said the handler was telling him that even the dogs were getting depressed, because they couldn't find anyone alive. In order to keep the dogs' spirits up, someone had to lie down in the rubble and allow the dogs to find them. (Being a police officer and watching the K9 units work, I know this is true. Working dogs love to work,because it's play time for them.)
All I could do was listen to Bob and pray with him. It was probably the first time since Bob and I met in September 1977 that there were no jokes, and there was no laughter.
I remember clearly the moment I broke down and finally cried. It was during a news report from London.(God Bless our British brother and sisters. I truly love the British.) It was during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (an event I have seen in person, what a sight!), Queen Elizabeth ordered a change in the ceremony's format, which had never been done before. She ordered the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
The cameras recorded people sticking their arms through the fence and waving American flags. People were wiping away tears.
American and Brits crying for their fellow citizens who were butchered by ruthless animals who don't even qualify to be called pieces of human debris.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
There will be much on television today about 9/11. Everyone has their own personal memory. Reaganite Republican has a round-up of bloggers who've posted their own tributes and don't miss this post by Bride of Rove.
Added: Here's the video Steve referenced. Brings a tear to my eye every time:
And don't miss Mark Steyn on Bloomberg's daffy decision to exclude firefighters and clergy from the ceremonies:
What’s missing from these commemorations?
Oh, please. There are some pieces of the puzzle we have to leave out. As Mayor Bloomberg’s office has patiently explained, there’s “not enough room” at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen. “Which is kind of weird,” wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, “since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago.” On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York. When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies — ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit, who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel. Far “too soon” for any of that at New Jersey City University, but perhaps you could reenact the moment by filling out a peace tag for Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree” and then letting it flutter to the ground.
Read the whole thing.
Also, via Newsbusters, here is George W. Bush's speech in Pennsylvania Saturday (text at the link):