I remember being in my office when someone first said a plane had crashed into a building in New York. At that time I didn't even know it was one of the twin towers. What a horrible accident I thought. Moments later I heard it was a major commercial jetliner and it had hit the World Trade Center south tower.
I remember several of us in the office scrambling to hook up a small twelve inch color television set desperately trying to see if we could find out what had gone wrong. Within minutes we were watching with disbelief and sadness. As we watched the ensuing fire spread in the building from the first airplane a second plane entered the picture and within a split second had impacted the second tower creating a firebomb like nothing I had ever seen. At that very second I realized we were not seeing an accident but were witnessing some sort of terrible attack.
I remember the news reports as they started pouring in from various sources from everywhere with speculations, accusations and questions of why. Then the inevitable reports from the third and forth jetliner attacks surfaced. The third attack was on The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and then the forth, a diverted attack which resulted in a crash in a field in Shaksville, Pennsylvania thanks to several of the heroic passengers and flight crew as it was supposedly heading toward Washington, DC, presumably to target our nations capital.
I remember my utter disbelief of what I was seeing play out before my eyes.
I remember the image of seeing people jump to their deaths to avoid the shear pain and torture of being burned alive.
I remember seeing the people on the streets below as they scattered and ran in terror trying to avoid being maimed, mutilated and killed from falling debris.
I remember the thickening of my emotions and the tears as they began to swell up in my eyes. How could this happen, I thought, and why would anyone want to kill and hurt so many innocent people?
I remember watching until I was sick to my stomach and finally couldn't watch anymore.
I remember leaving the office early and having a feeling of such emptiness. It was painful to see such a horrific event and I wondered if it was safe to be or go anywhere. Where would the next attack take place and when?
I remember watching the sky, waiting for a plane to fly by and wondered where it might be going. It wasn't long that the sky became empty as a nationwide grounding of all air traffic was put into place.
I remember later in the day the eerie silence of the sky and knew that on that day, September 11, 2001 would be a day I'd remember the rest of my life.
In all, on that fateful day, 2977 civilians (not including the 19 hijackers) lost their lives including 411 emergency responders from firefighters to police and EMT workers. Another 6,291 were victims of injury.
In the hours and days that followed we learned that the attacks were the master-mind of Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. He had plotted, along with other high ranking Al-Qaeda leaders, for several years to fulfill these vicious attacks on Americans. In the Koran it is interpreted as saying "slay the pagans wherever ye find them" and in Osama's mind all Americans are pagans. Osama bin Laden's radical beliefs were consumed with hurting and killing as many Americans as possible. He said, "it is the duty of every Muslim to kill Americans anywhere".
As we know, bin Laden is an extremist and that is certainly not the belief of all Muslims. In fact shortly after the attacks Muslim nationals from all over the world denounced the attacks and stepped up to offer whatever means possible to help in the recovery of victims and aid the injured throughout the aftermath.
Today, eight years later, the American spirit and desire to be free as a nation remains solid and constant. Our flag has never flown higher or more proud. Our soldiers and troops are still fighting, giving their own lives, to ensure that we as Americans can be free and that we can live daily without fear. We are a giving country and a land of opportunity. At no time in our history have we resolved to submit to threats and terror nor shall we start today. We are a peace loving country and have and always will continue to stand as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.