We know where we were and what we were doing when we got the word 20 years ago today … correct?
On that landmark Tuesday morning I was sitting at my desk at work in Amarillo, Texas. A young man with whom I worked on the editorial page of the Globe-News, came to work, stuck his head in the door and said, “Did you hear the news? A plan flew into the World Trade Center.”
That’s about all Dave Henry knew at the moment. I asked him about the weather. It was sunny and clear in New York, Henry said. My first thought was that a moron had flown the plane into the WTC by mistake.
I turned on the mini-TV I kept in my office. The “Today” show came on and a few minutes later, all hell broke loose as the second plane flew into the other WTC tower. We heard later that morning about the Pentagon and then about the crash in Shanksville, Pa.
Terrorists had hijacked four jetliners intending to do serious harm to this nation. They succeeded perhaps beyond the wildest dreams of the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who would be delivered justice a decade later by special operations forces sent to kill him by President Obama.
I don’t know what lessons we learned from that horrifying event. I can think of only one constructive lesson, which is that terrorism is a threat that cannot be extinguished. It will lurk in the evil souls of individuals for as long as they exist among us. The lesson will be that we must maintain the highest level of alert. Always and forever.
They paid tribute this morning in our North Texas community to the lives lost and the heroism displayed by firefighters, police officers, first responders and those passengers who fought the terrorists before crashing the plan in Pennsylvania.
They lowered the flag to half-staff at the Princeton Fire Department Station No. 3, the newest such station in our city. The ceremony was brief, but poignant. We learned about a firefighter who died in NYC on 9/11, Anthony Rodriguez, whose sister lives in Princeton and that the fire station we visited this morning was built in his memory.
The ceremony was brief. Our hearts will remain broken for as long as we remember the events of that day and the war that followed for two decades after the attack.
Mostly, though, I choose to salute the brave men and women — such as Anthony Rodriguez — who ran into the flames.