terrorist attacks

Like most Americans, I spent part of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks watching old footage of the attacks. Several things struck me looking back on those 102 minutes in time. It’s easy to see things like mistakes made, when you have the advantage of hind site, but at the time, everyone was operating under the normal procedures for emergency situations for the pre-September 11, 2001 world. We, however, no longer live in the same world we woke up in, on that Tuesday morning 10 years ago.

We had been taught that in a hijack situation, you cooperate with the hijackers, and you would most likely be freed when they got where they wanted to go. Of course, it had been quite a number of years since an airplane had been hijacked in the United States…and we had become complacent…assuming that it would never happen again…but we were wrong.

We had been taught that in emergency situations, stay where you are and help will be sent to you. It was all we knew. In reality, for anyone below the impact floors, evacuating immediately would have been the best thing to do. There was almost an hour from strike to collapse of World Trade Center Two…even longer for World Trade Center One. No one ever considered that the building could collapse, so many people were told to stay put. Listening to the recordings, makes me think about how awful those dispatchers must feel, knowing that the people they told to stay put, died because they didn’t evacuate the building. I’m not blaming the dispatcher, they were taught to keep people calm and in place until help comes to them. I also realize that there were people who were injured or otherwise incapable of getting out, and help had to come to them, but the able bodied citizen needed to be told to get out and take anyone they could with them.

I was struck with a renewed sense of shock when the towers fell. It seemed to be in slow motion, and very surreal, almost as if it wasn’t so, but was just a bad dream, like the dreams people have sometimes about falling, and they they wake up. Even though I knew it happened, and have lived with that reality for 10 years, it still didn’t seem possible…or real.

The rules all changed on September 11, 2001. We now have to each assess the situation we find ourselves in, and take the proper action for that situation. There is no norm. The new kind of terrorist and the new kind of war are the new norm, and they are sneaky and devious. We must be ever alert. Our survival could depend on it.

Like most people, I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when the news came out about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I was at home, my grandchildren were just arriving to await the time to go to school. I was getting ready for work and to take them to school. Kevin, my daughter Corrie’s husband, called to tell us that there were fires at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I remember saying, “How can that be? They are nowhere near each other!” I couldn’t wrap my mind around how that could be, until we learned that it was planes and terrorist attacks.

I remember feeling stunned all day, and for the next several days as well. Thoughts of all the people killed in the attack haunted me all day. I felt a deep sense of dread and pain for the families who had lost so much. Like most Americans, I wished I had a way to help, but I didn’t know of one, and I was needed at home. So I prayed, constantly for the people still trapped, as well as the dead, dying, their families, and our country.

As I look back on all that horror today, and listen to the people who complain about airport security, I have to wonder what they are thinking. It was complacency that opened our country up for those attacks. And it will be complacency that will bring them on again. If we are going to protect ourselves, and our country, we must stay ever alert.

And when I hear people saying that we should not profile those we search, I say, “Wake up!!” If we go into most other countries, we are looked at differently than their citizens. And while I am not racist, I feel like anyone who looks like they have an Arab background, needs to understand that if they are not a terrorist…then, we are doing this to protect them too. The rules have changed so much since that day, 10 years ago, when we found out the we can’t afford to be so trusting. We all need to be more understanding of those trying to protect us, and stop trying to make their lives more difficult. They are, after all, just doing their job like everyone else.

In a perfect world, none of this would be necessary, but in a perfect world, we would not have lost 2,819 people in one day, as the result of one planned terrorist attack. We don’t live in a perfect world, unfortunately, and there are people out there that hate us. I think we owe it to those who lost their lives to do our very best to make sure it never happens again.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The memory of those attacks and those who lost their lives should be as vivid in our memories as they were 10 years ago, or 10 years from now. We must never forget!!

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