I’ll never forget hearing on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as my work day was starting. I’ll never forget turning on the television and watching the plume of smoke as it rose against the New York skyline. I’ll never forget my confusion. What happened? How could a plane fly into a building like that? Did the pilot pass out? Did the navigation equipment malfunction?
I’ll never forget watching the second plane smash into the other tower. I’ll never forget turning to my boss and friend, Ed McGee, and how we came to the fantastical realization that this was not accidental, but on purpose. I’ll never forget the anger I felt upon this realization.
I’ll never forget calling my wife that day. I’ll never forget telling her to pick our children up and take them home. I’ll never forget that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop and being powerless to do anything about it.
I’ll never forget the reports that continued to come in. A plane had struck the Pentagon. A plane was missing and assumed to have crashed in western Pennsylvania. I’ll never forget how I felt when we learned all flights had been grounded. How could someone do this to the United States of America?
I’ll never forget watching the buildings burn. I’ll never forget wondering how the people in the buildings were going to get out. I’ll never forget thinking about what the emergency responders were facing as they entered the buildings to save lives.
I’ll never forget the horror I felt as the first building collapsed. I’ll never forget the feeling of despair as I realized that all of those people trapped in the building and those responders trying to save them were almost certainly dead. I’ll never forget thinking the other building won’t be far behind. It wasn’t.
I’ll never forget the days that followed. The investigation, the pictures of people leaping to their death to avoid being burned alive. The shock of it all and the anger. The realization that there really is evil in the world, and the realization of what evil men were capable of when not restrained.
I’ll never forget the contrasting tales of heroism that day. I’ll never forget my admiration for those fallen responders who rushed into the breach, disregarding their own safety in their desire to help others. I’ll never forget learning about how the passengers of the flight over Philadelphia attempted to retake the plane and ultimately crashed it, instead of letting it be used as a weapon like the other three were. I’ll never forget contemplating the vast and clearly marked divide between evil and good.
September eleventh, two thousand one. Never. Ever. Forget.