September 11th 2015

“Everybody’s shot! … let’s go!”

The quote is from the movie Black Hawk Down. After receiving an order, a young private looks at his Colonel in disbelief and says, “But I’m shot.” The Colonel returns that now famous line.

I remember a writer, in the Philadelphia Inquirer I think, using that line as a metaphor for September 11th. I won’t be able to do it justice here. So I’ll just steal his idea and pile my own words around it.

We remember this day for a lot of reasons. Face Book lights up with various pictures. Several channels replay the events, some like MSNBC play it real time. President Bush’s then press secretary Ari Fleischer tweets the events in real time. He starts with the closing hours of his day on September 10th and then picks up when he woke up on September 11th 2001. It’s compelling. Find his twitter feed here: @AriFleischer

September 11th 2001 might be the singular most horrible day in the history of all of us who lived through it. So why do we relight the flame as it were? Why do we drudge up the memories of such a frightful event? Why are people, like me, hooked on watching all the news coverage over and over again on this day, now 14 years removed from the actual event?

Well, I’m not sure exactly but I think it’s because we all were shot on that day of days.

Me, I was hold up at the Noncomissioned Officers Academy in Knoxville Tennessee, as were a bunch of my friends, watching and not believing. Honestly we didn’t know it then, but we were not in harms way. Safely huddled around a TV, watching and not believing. We didn’t know it then, but we were all shot on that day. It’s important to accept that, to realize that. This wasn’t confined to New York, the Pentagon, or Shanksville. We were all shot on that day. So we remember.

The second part of the Colonel’s response is just as important. Let’s Go! I know you’re shot. I’m shot, she’s shot, everybody’s shot! Let’s go, keep going. Let’s get on with getting on.

And we have gotten on with it, on with recovery, on with life again. Obviously there are some amazing stories of triumph on and since that day. So, we remember. We remember as low as we sank, as high as we climbed, and that life did get on with it. And so did we.


Knowing that makes it safe to remember.



What do you remember most from that day of days?









September 11th 2014

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.

What’s yours?


Always Remember Never Forget