I Haven’t Forgotten

There are certain events that are embedded in your memory and never forgotten. For me, these include the assassination of President Kennedy when I was in 1st Grade and the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The first plane had already hit the North Tower when I arrived at Swain County Hospital in Bryson City, North Carolina. My company provided the retirement plan for the hospital and I was there on my bi-weekly service visit. I remember watching the events unfold on a small TV in an unused patient room along with the hospital CEO and his secretary. Suffice it to say, no work got done that morning.

I remember the sadness I felt for my friend Lisa whose brother worked for Aon on the 102nd Floor of the South Tower. She related how he had called her mother to tell her goodbye as he knew he wasn’t getting out.

I remember the relief I felt on hearing that my second cousin Kevin McEntrye, a fire fighter with the FDNY, had gone off duty earlier that morning and was home when the first tower was hit. He was a hazardous materials specialist and worked non-stop for days afterwards in the recovery efforts. He took an early medical retirement due to the respiratory issues caused by exposure to the toxic materials at Ground Zero.

I remember the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 who fought back against the terrorists saving more lives.

I remember how we as a nation came together as one. Sadly, it didn’t last long enough.

I just remember.

One thought on “I Haven’t Forgotten”

  1. I was at work, running a vacuum furnace melting steel to produce alloy for the hot section of jet engines. Just when it happened, my wife called me on my furnace platform’s phone, something that she never had done before, and told me about the first one, just as the second one hit.
    I wonder if people at the time realized just how much the entire world changed with that one terrorist event? Former president George W. Bush could have asked anything of the American people, and we would have done it. Much like FDR at the beginning of WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
    I have a cousin who was a merchant marine, and he spent months hauling debris from the site via water to it’s ultimate destination. It was the last major job of his career, since he was due to retire soon thereafter. He and I are not super close, but he is close to my older brother and sister. And while we are not close, I have no doubt that the job of helping to clean up the destruction at the site weighed heavily on his mental health. I don’t think that anyone directly involved with the Twin Towers and the aftermath could have avoided the stress and strain that came from being a part of the clean up.
    That such an attack on our own soil could happen would have been unthinkable at the time. And yet I am confident that as a nation in some ways we needed just such a wake up call, to remind us that a small thing can often take down someone when a huge nation or event can’t. We have examples from history such as our own Vietnam war, or the experience of Russia in Afghanistan which mirrored our own. Our leadership should heed the lessons from 9/11, or as the saying goes, we are doomed to repeat it. At this point I have no doubt that another major domestic attack by foreign enemies is always in the planning stages. I hope that we continue to get lucky at finding and stopping just such attacks.

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