Earlier, I posted dad’s thoughts about the tragic events of 9/11. I thought I’d take a break from memories of dad, and post my own recollections of that tragic day 19 years ago.
In 2001, I was married, and my ex-wife and I were both seriously devoted to losing weight. I had been riding my fan bike – a stationary exercise bike – religiously. I would usually watch Tennessee Titans games I had recorded while I exercised, something I have still done over the years.
I got up that morning, and got ready to do my workout when my ex-wife called to me from the other room and told me to turn on the Today Show, and that a plane had struck one of the buildings of the World Trade Center.
I turned on the TV and saw the smoke billowing from the tower, and I assumed – as I think most people did – that this was a tragic accident. Some small commuter plane had a mechanical failure causing it to descend into the heart of Manhattan and struck the top of the building.
Mom and dad were getting their carry permits renewed, and I called them to let them know what had happened.
Then - as callous as it may sound - my thoughts were, “Wow, that terrible, a real tragedy… Okay, I’m going to ride my bike now.”
Before I could change the channel, the second plane struck Tower 2, and then my ex-wife came into the bedroom where the bike was, and we both looked at each other. It was obvious that this was no accident.
I called dad back and told him about the second plane. And he was as stunned as we were.
Thoughts of exercise quickly evaporated as we stayed glued to the news all day, hearing vague reports that another plane might have hit the Pentagon, and then the tragic confirmation of that.
There was no doubt at that point, our nation was under attack.
Then came the news of another plane in the air that was being tracked, then another crash, but it wasn’t clear if it was related to the others. In the days after, we learned the heroic story of Todd Beamer and others on United Flight 93 who did their best to regain control of the plane from the hijackers, but were only able to keep the plane from striking its intended target, when he told his crew, “Let’s roll.”
For the next few days and weeks, we heard so many brave stories from that horrific day and celebrated when 20 people were miraculously pulled from the wreckage of the twin towers, including two Port Authority PD officers.
When all was said and done, 2996 lives were lost on that gut-wrenching day.
In the weeks and months that followed, there was a resurgence of patriotism and love of our country like I had never seen. I had heard comparisons to the sentiment after the Japanese bombed the Naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941, and since those were both the worst attacks ever on U.S. soil, it makes sense that there were similar reactions.
People seemed nicer to each other, more caring, more united.
Then politics got in the way and a united America eventually began to divide, and our unity has eroded exponentially over the past 19 years.
Considering the shape the country is in today, I wish we could all remember who we were on 9/12/01, and educate those who were born after, or too young to understand what had happened.
There is an old saying which has been used for many years in our nation, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”
We’re seeing that played out right before our very eyes.
We said we would “Never forget,” yet sadly, too many have forgotten.
As dad tweeted almost every day from his Twitter account:
And let’s also remember who we were on 9/12, and recapture that feeling before it’s too late.
Pray for our troops, our police, our country and the peace of Jerusalem.
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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