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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mr. Jackson, I was sitting in a parking lot getting ready for work.

I was working at Payless Cashways in north Wichita and i had gotten to work early that day.   I was a newer ham radio operator and i was talking to a group of guys and one of them had his television on and was watching the news.  Scott mentioned that he thought it looked like alot more damage than the small plane they were talking about.  Suddenly, the other tower got hit.  I remember him telling all of us that the second tower had been hit.  The first thing out of everyone's mouth was, "That was no accident."  We knew it was a terrorist act.  I spent the rest of the day at work but no one was listening to anything else as the day passed.  I remember talking to my wife throughout the day about what had happened.

I was the father of a beatiful 2 year old daughter and the world had just changed.  The one thing I can't remember about that day is if we knew that my wife was excpecting our second child at that moment.  Today, I am a father to five beautiful daughters that live in this house.  They are growing up in a world that is different than the one I grew up in.  Then again, we all grow up in a world slightly different than the prior generation.  I remember watching the Challenger accident, Oklahoma City bombing and the fall of the Berlin wall.  I remember my father telling me he didn't think that wall would ever fall. 

Yes, the world is still turning and is different today than it was on September 11th.  It is a very different world.  Today, Payless Cashways doesn't exist anymore and I work at 911 in a post 9/11 world.  I have heard tapes of calls from that day and can only imagine the sheer panic and terror for those workers listening to people that would die and they couldn't do anything to help.  They sent men and women into burning buildings to save them and then the world came tumbling down.  Part of America shattered into pieces all over the ground that day as our innocence died.

Part of America died that day but part of us was born anew and it has been growing up over the past 10 years.  My children will always grow up in a post 9/11 world.  I have done everything I can to protect their innocence for as long as I can.  To allow them to just be children but I know that as we move forward something will happen to try to destroy that innocence.  Something will happen again that will capture their attention, emotions and conscience and cause the world to stop turning.  A high school teacher told me she remembered what she was doing when JFK was assasinated, that moment of connection with the rest of the nation.  Challenger, the Berlin Wall and September 11th are very much the same.  Moment's of connection with the rest of this nation.

I remember watching the Queen of Egland at a prayer service in Westminster praying for the United States.  She was singing along to a patriotic hymn blessing the USA.  Let me repeat that.  The Queen of England, whose ancestors had been defeated by the United States, was singing a USA patriotic hymn that was a rewritten version of the one honoring her (God Save the Queen).  I never thought I would see something like that.  That moment of connection went past this nation, it went around the world.  That moment, that shot was louder than the shot heard around the world.  May we never hear a shot like that again.  

Today, I honor the heroes, those who gave themselves on Septermber 11th and would never leave that place.  Those who died because they went to work that day.  I honor all of those who have fallen in their footsteps and undertaken civil service after that day.  Lest we ever forget those who died that day, any of them, they all have a dignity because they are human and some of the finest that day showed us the true dignity of what it meant to be human because a few showed us the worst portrayal of it.  Out of the ashes rose the Phoenix and so rose bravery that day.  

If you have read this far, thank you for listening to this man's ramblings about that day 10 years ago.  I am simply writing a few unplanned recollections before I put on my work uniform and go to work this morning.  Stay safe today and every day.


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