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On This Solemn Day

I beg the indulgence of my colleagues and friends and all of the readers of ThreatsWatch for this momentary expression of personal thoughts on this solemn day.

On the Eleventh of September 2008, it is seven years, and it is too soon to forget. And yet, I fear, that many people have allowed the clouds of other controversies to erase their memories and to distract them from the issues at hand. On the Tenth of September in the year 2001, we still believed that the oceans protected us from harm. The next day, we learned how wrong we were.

I was late leaving my home that morning. It was at 8:46am on the Eleventh of September seven years ago, that I stared in shock and awe at the television screen. I saw the visions and heard the words of the commentators who along with the rest of us watched as the first plane, American Flight 11 and then the second missile, United Flight 175…both filled with human beings crashed headlong into the buildings of the World Trade Center. After the second plane struck, I hurriedly left my condo to drive to my office. I felt a strong need to be with other people.

I drove a convertible back then. As I drove north along the Meadowbrook Parkway, in the sky only 30 miles to my west, a plume of black smoke rose in the crystal clear blue sky. It was cloudless and yet, my eyes were blurry with emotion. The 15-mile drive was eerie as there were no airplanes in the sky overhead. The FAA had already closed the skies to air traffic and the airports were closed. When I arrived at my office, fire engines from the surrounding community were staging for their trips into Manhattan on the side street of the Industrial Park.

It was not long afterward, at 9:45 am eastern, that American Flight 77 struck the Pentagon. At 10:05 am the South Tower crumbled in a roar, people screaming and running away from the billowing smoke mixed with cement and stone and pulverized humanity. At 10:10 am, United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. And then, at 10:28 am, the North Tower came down, and we knew then, as we know now, that our lives had changed forever.

That Saturday morning my wife and I drove to the ocean at Jones Beach, West End 2. From there, the normal view had been the reaching and majestic skyline at the Southern tip of New York City’s Manhattan Island. This very clear morning, however, was different. The battleships were visible off the shore surrounding Long Island where I lived, and a place that I loved. And in the very close distance, not 20 miles as the crow flies, instead of the glass Towers, smoldering smoke rose from the rubble pile of humanity.

Perhaps to some, the memory of that day has faded. And maybe to others, world events have made that day a speck in time now clouded by the controversies of geo-politics. To me, that day and those moments are indelibly etched in my mind and I will carry to my grave the emotions that well-up in me each time those images flash into my present.

Inside, each day, I cry a little, remembering those moments and my feelings of anger and anguish. I have one of my own photographs of the World Trade Center on my computer now, as a wallpaper that I see each time that I view my desktop, to remember and never forget. Each time I hear a patriotic tune, or see a picture of the Towers as they once were, I cry too. I cannot go to a sporting event or to my step-daughter’s graduation from UTSA, as I did last Spring, and not have tears roll down my cheek when I listen to the Star Spangled Banner. “This” is far from over, no matter who says anything to the contrary. No doubt that we all have different feelings and emotions, and have dealt with that day and the aftermath in personal ways. That is why I know that the work I do and direct through my company is so important now. And that is why, when I can, I contribute to Threatswatch, and thank my friends for the opportunity to do so.

A lifetime will be too short for me to forget that day, the Eleventh of September in the year 2001.