It really doesn’t seem like 12 years have passed since 9/11, but I remember that day as clearly as I can see the coffee cup sitting on my desk. It was a typical Tuesday morning at The Central Virginian. Reporters were busily writing their articles for the next issue and there was the normal chit-chat that goes on in a busy office.
My mother-in-law, who faithfully watched the Today Show every morning called me at the office to tell me that a plane had just crashed into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City. While I thought it was terrible, I didn’t give it much thought, but as we were talking, she exclaimed that another airplane had crashed into the other tower. That certainly got my attention. There was no way that could be coincidence.
Imagine my surprise when it was reported that a plane also crashed into the Pentagon and another in an open field in Pennsylvania. I remember walking out the back door of The Central Virginian to think in peace and mull over the events of that beautiful autumn-like morning.
The entire community was on alert and people were glued to the television—us among them. Yes, we asked a co-worker’s husband to bring in an extra set so that we could follow the developing news ourselves.
We heard from many people in the community that day who had connections in New York City or at the Pentagon, and learned of local reservists who were placed on standby, awaiting their next orders.
In talking to people within the community, one thing was immediately clear. Everyone realized that we were, in fact, vulnerable to the horrors of terrorism.
We lost our innocence that day as we watched the twin towers disintegrate floor by floor by floor and opened our mouths in horror as the dust and smoke billowed down the avenues of the financial district of NYC.
As we wrote in our editorial that week, “the victims were the heart of America,” the persons who work the 9 to 5 shift such as secretaries, sales clerks, administrative assistants, janitors, receptionists.”
And as we all know only too well, NYC lost a large number of firemen, rescue workers and police personnel that day while they selflessly worked to try and save the citizens they were sworn to protect.
The attacks of 9/11 affected everyone who was alive that day and it will be forever etched in our memories. It became a test of our compassion and resilience—it also became a battle cry.
There is now a tangible piece of the Twin Towers represented in a hunk of steel recovered from the disaster site. The memorial appropriately stands on the lawn in front of the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services Departments.
The steel beam serves not only as a reminder of that horrible day in American history, but represents the strength, compassion and fearlessness of those who place their lives on the line each and every day—as well as brings forth the memory of the nearly 3,000 souls who died that day.
Let us not ever forget what happened that day—remember always the innocent people who perished that day and the soldiers who have since died while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We should also remember the sacrifice of all the families—wives, husbands, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters—who were touched in some significant way as a result of 9/11.
Yes, I still remember that day vividly. It seems like only yesterday that terrorists awoke the sleeping giant and made us forever more cautious, a little less innocent and maybe a little less trusting. But it didn’t dispel our spirit, patriotism or love for our countrymen.