Friday, September 9, 2011

We Will Never Forget...

I'll never forget Sept. 11, 2001, nor will the many others old enough to have witnessed and understand the scope of the worst terrorist attack against the United States in all its history.

As a junior in high school, I didn't fully grasp what this meant at first.  Like many others, I was solely focused on those lives lost through this tragedy.  The images I saw on TV that day are forever burned into my brain, and each year they cycle through so I remember those affected and say a prayer for the children that will never see their mother or father, the husband that will never come home to his wife or the firefighter or police officer that will never again report for duty.

Each year I feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism, and I suppose, in a very callous way, I have al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to "thank" for that. An event that was meant to tear us apart has united us even more, as evidenced by the countless acts of kindness following the horrific events.  From those volunteers that drove thousands of miles to dig for survivors and for those that helped victims and family members pick up the pieces of their lives, I salute you.

Now 10 years after the tragedy, I am now faced with lingering thoughts of a repeat of Sept. 11 every time I board an airplane — which is pretty damn often, given my travel schedule.

As I walk through airport security, I find myself being highly aware of those around me.  Admittedly, I get uneasy when I see a middle eastern passenger in the security line, and I don't mean to be prejudice, but that's the barrier I've built for myself.

However, I also now see several soldiers strolling through the airports I visit, creating a sense of calm for me, knowing they are fighting against those that planned, coordinated and continue to praise the events of 9/11.

I definitely get a chill when a soldier comes home, and fellow passengers take time to appreciate the soldier's service:

The events of 9/11 are always with me when I fly — which is quite often. I quickly get a sense of what confusion, panic an fear those passengers must have felt, though I will never know exactly what it was like.  

Much like I do walking through an airport, I tend to look around at other passengers to see which ones look too focused and intense for a flight to Raleigh, NC, and which ones look like they could whip some ass if the situation called for it.

I'm 5-9 and 145 lbs, but I always try and pick out someone that I think I could at least tackle if he/she were to rush to the front of the plane. HAHA!

Every time we're asked to put away cell phones, I always send a quick text to Rachel and to my mom that we've boarded, and I often think about the horrific phone calls passengers made to their loved ones that day. You quickly realize the many others affected by the attacks, and the mental anguish, sadness and confusion on both ends of the phone that day as people said their final good-byes.

The memories of that day live on in all of us, and some are even creative enough to pay tribute in special ways.  I was lucky enough to meet and interview a man in Lakeland, Fla., who is a railroader by trade, but comes from a family of firefighters, and was deeply moved by the events of 9/11. 

As an avid motorcyclist, he felt it necessary to pay tribute to those lost through a creative paint scheme. He rides this everywhere he goes, through all kinds of weather, just to make sure everyone he meets never loses sight of what happened that day, and how it changed our world forever.

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