Seventeen years. I cannot believe it has been that long.

I had just started a new job in Tyler when news of the first plane strike filtered through the office. Everyone went to the break room and our boss turned on the television projector. I honestly could not believe what I saw as the second plane hit the south tower. How could we be attacked on our own soil? I felt like I was watching a movie and kept telling myself it was not real.

But it was.

On this horrible day, 19 men hijacked four U.S. commercial planes. Two hit the Twin Towers, a third the Pentagon. Heroes on the fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93 sacrificed their lives attempting to take back the plane.

WHO WE LOST:

  • 2,753 people were killed at the World Trade Center; of whom 343 were NYC firefighters, 23 NYC police officers and 37 NYC Port Authority officers.
  • 184 people were killed at the Pentagon.
  • 40 people were killed at a remote field in Pennsylvania.*

Nearly 3,000 people died in just 102 minutes in a coordinated attack against our country and our beliefs, and the U.S. has not been the same since.

Although 17 years have passed, I still wake with a heavy heart, praying for everyone affected as we get through the day. Today, my heart warmed when I saw that a co-worker here at the station, Kenny Smith, set up a very touching memorial for remembrance. Here is his reflection on the tragic day:

My phone rang in the studio and like always, I began to record and after, “Good Morning K-MOO” I heard the familiar voice of longtime friend and listener Gary Cobb of Quitman say in a frantic panic, “I think a plane just hit the World Trade Center, man do you know anything about that?’ I reached for the remote and immediately went to CNN and in an instant the adrenaline flow began to dry my throat. The next few minutes rolled by with confusion setting in for the on air personalities at the time when they were informed an eye witness “SAW” a passenger plane “fly into” the building.

There were thousands of radio and television personnel that were “on the air” at the exact moments those listening needed information and more importantly……….answers.

WE WERE NOT PREPARED FOR NOR TRAINED to handle such an event much less be able to control our own fear and confusion in order to HELP those on the other end of our microphones. Just sitting and watching wasn’t  enough, I had to figure out a way to address those that COULD NOT get to the TV. After sitting up a mic next to the speaker on the TV, it was a simple decision to just let the people that had MORE INFO than me, to just tell my audience what was happening. Then………as the camera’s rolled, United 175 flew into the second tower. It was IMPOSSIBLE not to feel the air go out of the lungs of America at the moment the debris began to fall and the fire ball began to rise.

We ALL have a shocking and horrified response when this day comes along every year and the memory will forever be one of sadness, fear, unparalleled anger, and heartbreak, for the hundreds that died as a result of the act as well as the hundreds that naturally felt compelled to brush danger aside and “do the job.” Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

If you get a moment today, please extend a hug/prayer to ANYONE  celebrating a Birthday while trying to cycle through the emotions  of this day unselfishly,  as they will forever be limited on their personal celebration of the day of their birth. Our own Mandee Montana has to endure this every year and does so without hesitation.

Thanks for the time today my friends, change a life today and never forget, “not everyone gets to go home at the end of the day.”

I could not agree more. I hope you take time today to reflect on the importance of this day. Never forget those who stand up against evil each and every day. Thank you for everything you do in the name of freedom.

God Bless America.

*Information taken from CNN's article on the September 11 attacks.