September 11th 2001 I had the good fortune of wearing the uniform. Still 8 years from retirement, I was also fortunate to be tucked away in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee, as an instructor at the Noncommissioned Officers Academy.
As I stood with my brothers and sisters in arms watching the world fall apart seemingly around us, it struck me and just about everybody standing there, we were living through the most pivotal moment in our history. Our personal history and surely our military history had just taken a 90 degree turn. As cliche as it sounds, life was never the same again.
Our procedures changed, our curriculum changed, our incoming students changed.
13 years later I’m still riveted by the stories and pictures and documentaries that play on this day. But on that day, on September 11th 2001, I can still remember watching the little TV in my testing office as the reports came in about a plane hitting the Twin Towers. The conjecture was flying on the Today Show about how or why it happened, then it wasn’t. The second plane ended all that.
I’m not sure who said it, maybe then TSgt Don Felch, but someone said, “We’re under attack!”
90 degrees. It was as sudden as that.
I remember most of the people standing there, Don Felch, Mark Lane, Jerry Bivins, Mitch Lollar, Jon Hawk, Mike Smeltzer, and a few others. I remember heading home the next day after standing guard all night because someone thought they may be coming for the nerds next. I remember sitting in complete silence in front of the TV all the next day with my then roommate Chris Morin, now a father and still an Officer, not believeing a thing I was seeing. All have gone on to full military careers and most have since joined me in retirement.
The rallying cry that has become the norm for September 11th is Always Remember, Never Forget.
I wonder, is it possible to forget a day like today? With our high speed lives of moving from one huge experience to the next at a dizzying pace, is it possible?
I remember where I was and who I was with. We all have a story from that day I imagine.
Always Remember Never Forget