Eight years ago today, I was sitting at my desk at the 269th Combat Communications Squadron, Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio when a breaking news alert email informed me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, my fellow technicians and I were watching the live coverage when the second plane hit. I’m not sure who said it first, but we immediately understood it was terrorism, and sometime during that morning, we had already guessed it was al Qaeda.
By 10 a.m., our base and every US Military installation in the world was at its highest threat alert. We were locked in and locked down. Nobody knew what might happen next, but as a plane slammed into the Pentagon and the Towers collapsed, we all knew that the world had changed.
Sometime during that day, then Senior Master Sergeant Bennett and I went to RadioShack to buy a TV antenna so that we could follow the day’s events on the news because the base cable was out. With the base in lock-down, the security forces almost did not let us back onto the base.
My dad had to pick my wife up from work that day. We rode together to work every morning because her school was only minutes from my base, but I could not leave to pick her up. It was well into the evening before I finally got home that day.
Why tell you all of these things? Because that day, everything changed. That day, 2,977 people were murdered by 19 men who hated America so much they were willing to die killing others. That change impacted every one of us, and eight years later, that change is still felt by those who choose to remember.
Eight years later, 9-11 still strikes me with the same force it did that day, yet I can see that those events are fading for many people. The old adage is that time heals all wounds, but I wonder whether we should let wounds heal when those responsible still wield the knife that caused them.
Whatever anyone else chooses to do, I choose to remember. We cannot forget the lesson we learned eight years ago today. We cannot forget that everything changed that day and it has not changed back. We cannot forget that there is still work to be done.
Let’s remember. Let’s roll.