Today on television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, in offices, on busses, on the subway — just about everywhere in this country — people are telling stories of where they were and what they were doing when the terrorists attacked our nation on September 11, 2001. Some tell harrowing stories of being in the Twin Towers, or in the Pentagon. Others tell of loved ones who died that day or in the aftermath. Some took part in the rescues and clean up. Many, who were deployed to foreign lands to fight the terrorists, were injured or killed.
But most of us were not on the scene. Instead, we watched from afar. Our stories go a little something like this: “Well, I was driving the kids to school, when something came on the radio saying…” or “I was at work, when my wife called and told me about the news reports…”
Those who directly experienced the horrors of 9/11 and its aftermath come forward each year to tell your stories, and everyone should listen. But they are not the only ones who need to speak. Every American who was old enough to remember that fateful day should tell their story, no matter whether they were sitting in a McDonald’s in Minneapolis, walking their dog in Dubuque, or taking a nap in Newark. It doesn’t matter what we were doing or where we were, we must dredge up that day in our minds and talk about it.
It is important for all of us to describe what we thought and felt when we heard the news of the terror attacks eleven years ago, because we tend to lose touch with the things that are most important in life. When we tell our stories of 9/11, we remember that moment when we realized that our uniquely American way of life is precious and must be defended. So today, call a friend, elbow the person next to you on the subway, knock on a neighbor’s door — and ask the question: “What were you doing on 9/11?” Let them tell their story, and then tell yours.
On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, I wrote about NYC Fireman and Navy F-14 pilot John Gormley, who told a direct and personal story about the events of that day, the aftermath, the War on Terror, and the struggle to cope. And last year, I told my own story of being in an aerobics class in the YMCA in Virginia Beach. The stories are different for sure, but both serve the same purpose — NEVER FORGET.
“Fighting to Keep the Flame Alive” (John Gormley’s story)
“Surviving the Storm of Terrorism” (My story)