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9/11 Lives On

September 12, 2018
Emmetsburg News

September 11, 2001, it used to be another day in our lives. Do you remember where you were at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time (9:46 am Central)? That day, the unthinkable happen America was attacked on her own soil. This day not only shattered our sense of indestructibility in the wake of the Cold War; it also restructured and extended the government's role as our everyday protector. It led us into two wars, one of which is still going on today. But, it also pushed many of us to willingly for go liberties for the sake of security.

It changed American life in ways so profound that we hardly give a second thought to what life was like 17 years ago. To travel, go to a concert, attend a sporting event, talk on the phone, search the Internet or something as simple as walking down the street knowing that our actions are beyond the governments reach.

The shock and trauma of the events of 9/11 threw us out of the bubble we lived in. News reports of the era showed terrorist attacks in other countries. I thought as all Americans did, it could never happen here, on our own soil. I felt sorry for the people in other countries that had to deal with attacks everyday it seemed.

I remember the exact minute I saw that first plane hit the North Tower. It was 10:00 a.m. I had just turned on the TV to listen to the news, as I got dressed for work. I remember not believing what I heard and rushing to the living room and that's when I saw it, the second plane hit the South Tower.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I just kept thinking, "Those poor people." The entire event was televised. I watched the New York Fire Departments arrive and storm into the buildings and in my heart I knew people would be saved. I had met a couple of firefighters from New York when RAGBRAI went through Ayrshire in 1990. I was a volunteer firefighter and an EMT on Sept. 11.

It was at 10:59 a.m. Central Time, when the South Tower collapsed. I never realized until years later that it only took 10 seconds. I know my heart sank because I knew that the firefighters that had rushed in as soon as they arrived had no chance.

Besides the enormous loss of life that day, something that happened shortly after bothered me beyond anything else I have ever been through it was that period of time when all planes were grounded. At 37 years old, there had never been a time in my life that I couldn't look up at any given time and see the signs that planes were flying overhead. I felt isolated and terrified. This is the best way I can describe how I felt; although, it isn't exactly how I felt but I have never found the right word or words.

We need to Always Remember and Never Forget. Approximately 2,753 people lost their lives that day at the World Trade Center. This number includes 343 firefighters, 23 police officers and 37 Port Authority officers. Ages of the victims range from two to 85. At the Pentagon, 184 people lost their lives and near Shanksville, PA., 40 people lost their lives.

There are still those who were so brave and vigilant, are still dying, not to mention all of our men and women in the armed services who have lost their lives in the fight to protect our freedoms.

As a final thought, it has been 17 years since 9/11. As of July 2018, 1,642 (60%) of the 2,753 World Trade Center victims' remains have been positively identified.



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