I first wrote this four years ago… I’m posting it again with minor edits that simply reflect the passage of time.
Today, please take a moment to pause and remember the many brave Americans that tragically lost their lives 18 years ago in the brutal terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I have always considered that day to be the Pearl Harbor of my generation… I can vividly remember exactly where I was when I learned of the attacks and watched the towers fall. It was a little after 0600 on the West Coast and I was watching the events unfold on the television in the crew room of an ambulance base in Pasadena, CA. I remember going out into Los Angeles on my ambulance that day believing that we were going to be the next target. As it turned out, the violence that day was confined to the Eastern Seaboard, but America was forever changed. True, that day was far from our first exposure to terrorism, but it was nonetheless pivotal in its impact on our national psyche.
Usually on this tragic anniversary, I will post something on social media to the effect of “Never Forget, Never Forgive!” A few years ago, the importance of that sentiment was reinforced for me when a younger co-worker commented that September 11th seems to be just another day now, implying that the anniversary has somehow become less important to the national consciousness with the passage of time. I will agree that our nation has a very short memory, but I will also call that a damned shame!
Among all of the stories of heroism that came to light after 9/11, the story of the resistance by passengers on board United Airlines Flight 93 is perhaps my favorite. When faced with a terrible and untenable situation, they made the courageous choice to fight back. They may have lost their lives, but their lives were not lost in vain. Instead, we now celebrate them as heroes who prevented further tragedy. Let their example serve as a reminder of how we should forever respond to those who seek to destroy our way of life, whomsoever they may be. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial, as I had the opportunity to do earlier this year.
In the years since 9/11, we have continued to face repeated threats both at home and abroad. No matter whether it’s a terrorist or an active shooter, and no matter their motivations, any group or individual that seeks to cause death and terror to further an agenda needs to be dealt with swiftly and decisively. While the probability that any of us will one day face a domestic terrorist or an active shooter is admittedly remote, the possibility nevertheless still exists. I will be the first to acknowledge that we should prepare for the probable before the possible, but in this instance, the requisite tools and training are appropriate for both the probable AND the possible… Carry your gun and train to fight back against threats with surprise, speed, and violence of action. Acquire the necessary knowledge and supplies to deal with injuries in the aftermath of incidents. Above all else, accept and prepare for the fact that YOU may be the first responder to an incident!
If nothing else, take a moment and appreciate the many liberties that we still enjoy, hug your kids, and tell your loved ones how important they are to you. Understand that life as you know it can change in an instant. That’s an admittedly somber thought, but nonetheless, prepare accordingly! Indeed, memento mori…
So now, in remembrance of 9/11, I will leave you with the motivation of Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer’s last recorded words and his inspiring rallying call, “Are you guys ready? Okay. Let’s roll!”