The Mil & Aero Blog
Thursday, September 11, 2008
  9/11: more a day of infamy than Pearl Harbor

Posted by John Keller

It's sad that folks don't seem to remember the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon -- all except for the anniversary of this tragic sneak attack on American soil by American enemies, which is today.

As I write this, it's 7:57 a.m., on 11 Sept., just about three-quarters of an hour before the first hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center towers seven years ago in the first of unfolding events in the 9/11 conspiracy to attack Americans on U.S. soil.

I'm hoping that all Americans take a quiet moment today to remember 9/11 and the attacks that so profoundly changed our lives. It really shouldn't be difficult. After all, more people were killed in the 9 11 attacks than were killed in the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to begin the Second World War in 1941.

While I was growing up, my parents talked about Pearl Harbor from time to time, and always spoke about where they were and what they were doing when they heard of the attacks. My dad was 11, and my mom was 10 at the time. They talk about concerned parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who huddled around radios -- there was no television at the time -- in shocked silence as they absorbed details of the attacks.

It was much the same with us seven years ago. I had just gotten in to work that morning, and found all of my colleagues huddled around the television in our downstairs conference room -- all of them in shocked silence as they watched the World Trade Center towers burn and collapse. Some people looked numb, some looked outraged, there were more than a few tears rolling down faces.

I think these generations of people who were around on September 11, 2001 will be talking about the terrorist attacks for a long time. Our kids will grow up remembering about their folks speaking of 9/11 -- where they were and what they were doing. It's seared into all our memories.

Make sure you take a moment today to remember.
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I was attending a trade show in Chicago on 9/11. My colleague and I were lucky enough to get a rental car, and we drove straight through to New England (18 hours).

I may never forget the flurry of emotions I had during that time (horror, sadness, fright, compassion, confusion, and an overwhelming drive to be with loved ones as soon as possible, among others), and yet what made more of a lasting impression on me (who I am as a person and an American) and my life was what I encountered on that journey home.

As we traveled from state to state, we encountered so many good-hearted people who went out of their way to reach out to people. Workers at various towns and cities towed their gas-powered signs to the edge of the interstate; the lights greeted travelers, carrying messages that ranged from "God bless" to "USA" to images of the American flag. Semi trucks were adorned with the flag on their grills. Strangers at rest areas and gas stations would go out of their way to transform their somber faces to smiles, delivering a touch on the shoulder or back as they genuinely inquired, "How ya doing?" I recall being embraced by a stranger’s spontaneous half-hug while waiting on line for coffee at a travel plaza en route. And throughout the trip, present and former colleagues, friends, relatives, and even friends of those friends and relatives, phoned my cell to find out where I was, make sure I was okay, and to offer up a status report on their loved ones' whereabouts, as well as a to lend an ear.

I hope that one day I do forget the images I have seen on TV and in newspapers and that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach -- but I want never to forget the camaraderie, humanity, and sheer goodness that I witnessed on my trip home.
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