September 11th: Have You Forgotten?
Fourteen years ago, America was attacked in New York, Washington DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was the end of our innocence and the beginning of the never ending war for freedom. Where were you when the planes hit the towers? The Pentagon? Flight 93? Have we ever faced such a feeling of uncertainty at home? President Bush was on the move flying across the country. Vice President Cheney was in a bunker at the White House. Our nation was at war with an enemy we didn't see coming.
The President returned to the White House and spoke to the nation. The country rallied behind his leadership. We learned about the sheer evilness of Mullah Omar, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, and Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda became a household name. We sent our bravest to fight the enemy over there and to prevent another September 11th. Thankfully that strategy has worked. However, only through the courage and bravery of our military will we be free.
I'd like to thank all who fought and those who didn't return home. Those who never had the chance to get married, walk their daughters down the aisle or buy a house. We owe the families of the fallen more than my words can express.
I was working September 11th in Birmingham, Alabama. I was hosting a morning show when I saw the first and second planes hit the towers. I had just returned from visiting New York and was amazed at how big, wide, and 'safe' the Twin Towers were. Like you, I watched the attacks unfold throughout the morning and coordinate coverage of five major radio stations in Alabama.
It was impossible to digest the news as we hosted talk shows allowing folks to express themselves. I was blessed to work with a great staff led by John Mountz and Paul Finebaum anchoring our coverage. Do you remember that for the next 24-48 hours every TV and Radio Channel was news? Would we eventually go back to normal? Was there a normal to go back to?
I decided that the people that I represented need to find out what life was like in New York. I booked a flight to NYC three weeks after the attacks. I can remember seeing the smoke still coming out of Ground Zero as I flew into Laguardia Airport. The pilot frantically admonished the passengers on our plane because they had rushed to the left-hand side of the plane as we were about to land causing the plane be off balance. Thankfully they returned to their side of the plane.
I was the first local host from outside NYC to broadcast from Ground Zero. I was completely mesmerized by the incredible sadness. However, I found hope and inspiration that to this day inspires me. I had just returned from Ground Zero, and I'll always remember the smell. My eyes were burning after only being on site for a few minutes.
I stumbled upon a restaurant named Nino's on West Canal Street. I had been trying to find the firehouse where most of the men in that department had perished. There were instant memorials throughout the city. I saw many workers from the rescue site going into Nino's Restaurant. I was greeted by Nino and his eighty-five-year-old mother, Josephine. They were feeding the first responders and rescue workers 24 hours a day seven days a week for free. Nino and his Mom wanted to repay the city and country that had given them so much. Volunteers were working as servers and cooks.
Who would've thought that a simple meal would make such a difference against such overwhelming grief? Everyone was family. The American Spirit lived that day and many more at Nino's. Eventually, I would return to Alabama and help church groups fly up to NYC to work at Nino's. Average Americans were helping one another. Making a difference, it didn't matter if you were a Yankee or a Rebel. We were all Americans.
Dr. Laura Be-roux of Saint Johns University was already organizing businesses to help the lower New York region. What a great real life lesson in life and economics that day provided for those college students. Another New Yorker was a firefighter, Sean Duffy. He had just gotten married and thought he was going to die. He was in the World Trade Center Marriott when the towers failed. It was a miracle from God that he lived. He thanked me for bringing attention to his city. I thanked him for his courage.
They're so many more stories of how America survived September 11th. I would ask you to please pray for all that we lost and all that we may gain from that day in history. Whether it's fourteen or forty years, we cannot forget 911.