Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

My Story Of This Tragic Day

My Story Of This Tragic Day

There are certain landmark events in American history of which we will never forget the details of the day. The bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK and the moon landing are among those significant events permanently etched in the memories of those who lived through them. For my generation (which anthropologists have dubbed "Generation X") I can think of no event more monumental than the day of September 11, 2001. For those of us alive and old enough to remember that day, it will forever be etched in our minds.

I realize that there are some people who question the responsibility for the attacks of that day, my intent of this article is not to discuss where the blame may lie. While my personal opinion is that these were attacks carried out by terrorists without intentional assistance from the U.S. government, I state this only as explanation for some of my perspective.

Much of my skepticism of the conspiracy theorist's claims of the government being deeply involved in the attacks is not rooted in my belief in the nobility of our leaders as much as my observations of their general incompetence in running day to day activities. Remember, this is the same government who couldn't figure out how to best operate a "Cash for Clunkers" program. To think they could successfully mastermind a complex plot against our own country, cover up all of their tracks and keep everyone involved completely quiet would require much more finesse than that for which I am prepared to give them credit.

Regardless of our viewpoints, we can agree on the following facts of that day: four planes crashed, the World Trade Center towers no longer stand in New York City, something put a very large hole in the side of the Pentagon, and most regretful is that roughly 3,000 people lost their lives that day.

What follows is not a recounting of the details of the attacks. The minute-by-minute accounting of the three events have been covered more thoroughly by people much more qualified than I, and are easily available via a Google search, or at this Wikipedia article. Detailed below is my accounting of what happened on that day. Years from now my grandchildren (if I have any) may ask me, "Grandpa, do you remember September 11th?" This is the story I will tell them.

The morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 was quite possibly the most beautiful day I can recall, from a weather perspective. Outside of the tragedy, this is my most vivid memory. This may seem to be inconsequential when compared to the other happenings, but my mind immediately goes back to the weather. The temps were in the mid-70s, there was no wind, low humidity and the sky was absolutely cloudless. We were up early, loading the car in preparation to head towards Shreveport, LA.

To help with perspective on the day, allow me to back up a couple of weeks prior to this glorious weathered morning.

Amy and I were in the middle of selling our house. We were attempting to start a family, and had decided that our current home was not in a location conducive to child rearing. We loved the house itself, but the neighborhood was crime ridden and becoming more and more run down.

During the month of August, we had actually found a new house in which we were interested that was located in the nearby town of Brandon. This house was in rather poor condition, but had an incredible lot in a great location high on a hill overlooking a beautiful river valley. The house had been on the market for quite a while, so Amy and I decided to shoot the owners a lowball offer and see if they would bite. If we could get the price low enough, we could have spent the necessary money to fix up the house.

On the morning of August 27th we met with our Realtor to put together the offer. An hour prior to our meeting, our Realtor discovered that the owners of the house had just accepted an offer for full asking price that very morning. Discouraged, we decided that as long as we had the appointment set up we might as well meet anyway and see what other houses were on the market.

We met with the Realtor and looked at a couple of houses but they really didn't interest us, especially when compared to the one we had just missed. While sitting in the Realtor's office, one of his co-workers popped her head in and asked if we had checked out the new house that had just gotten listed over on Bruce Road. We were out of time for that day, but set up an appointment for the 30th to tour this home.

Once we saw this new house, we immediately decided to purchase it. Our Realtor drew up our offer and presented it to the seller, who accepted it without haggling. So on the night of August 30th, 2001, we realized that as of the 28th of September we would own two houses. As is with most people, two mortgage payments were an awful lot to shoulder so we immediately went to work on selling our old house on Menlo Avenue.

I remember working my tail off that Labor Day weekend, cleaning the whole house from top to bottom. I boxed up everything we wouldn't need prior to moving and got it stored away so the house would look larger and less cluttered. I fixed a few minor things needing repair, and I did all of this while barely being able to walk due to a motorcycle accident I experienced a few days earlier on the 29th.

My efforts paid off, as after the intense weekend of preparation our house went on the market on September 4th. On September 5th we received an offer after being listed for a little over 24 hours. After a small amount of haggling we settled on a price. The sale of our old house was contingent on passing an inspection which was scheduled for the 11th.

An old roommate of Amy's from back in seminary was scheduled to get married on the evening of September 14th. Months prior, Amy had been asked to be a bridesmaid during the wedding, so we had planned a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana. Originally we had planned on extending the trip a bit and turning the journey into a small vacation. When the whole home purchase came about we made the decision to shorten the trip to allow us the extra time and money we would need to move.

Our plan was now to leave for Shreveport on the morning of the 11th. We would spend two days driving there, two full days to be involved in the wedding and related activities, and then two days to return arriving back home on the 16th. With the inspection scheduled for the day we were leaving, my plan was to check in with our Realtor occasionally during the day while we traveled to make sure everything was OK with the sale.

Not having the money to fly, on the morning of the 11th we loaded up our trusty 1992 Buick LeSabre and started driving south from Sioux Falls at about 8 AM. It was while I was loading the car that morning that I remember remarking how perfect the weather conditions were. The temperature was in the mid-70s, the air was calm and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It would have been an excellent day to spend outside rather than sitting in a car. At least the lack of wind would at least make for pleasant driving.

As we headed down I-29, Amy slept a good deal of that morning, which isn't unusual when we travel. I passed the time listening to cassette tapes from a conference I had attended earlier that spring. I had filled the car with gas prior to leaving, so we could easily reach southern Missouri before we would require a fuel stop.

When driving, I generally try to minimize stops. Perhaps it's due to my goal-oriented nature. I know what it is I want to accomplish (in this case a travel destination) and work to reach that target in the most efficient means possible. I can usually hold my bladder longer than Amy, so I usually wait until she tells me she needs to stop. On this particular morning, Amy didn't need to stop so I didn't bother with it either.

Around lunchtime we were approaching the Iowa/Missouri border. I saw a sign for a Pizza Hut in the town of Hamburg, Iowa. We were both hungry and ready for a break. Pizza sounded appealing so we agreed that this would be a good place to stop.

I pulled into the Pizza Hut parking lot and stepped out of the car. As I was stretching, I noticed a semi-truck parked in the neighboring business parking lot that had the door open and the radio turned up loud. I recognized Tom Brokaw's voice, and assumed that the people standing around the truck were listening to a noon news program. I didn't think too much of it at the moment.

Amy and I went inside the restaurant and took seats in a booth. We were the only customers in the place, which I thought was a little odd but because this was a small town and I was unaware how busy they would normally be on a weekday, I didn't give that fact much thought either.

Our waitress came and took our order. I noticed she was friendly, but reserved. Something about her demeanor struck me as a bit odd, but once again at the moment I didn't give it too much thought.

Amy and I sat and talked as we ate our food. My mind started putting the little puzzle pieces together, and I remember about halfway through the meal remarking to Amy that, "I think something really bad happened this morning." Amy asked why I thought that, and I couldn't explain exactly why. I think she wrote it off as paranoia and kept eating.

I'm not sure how I knew something had happened, but I knew. I'm guessing it was the accumulation of the various anomalies I had been observing since we stopped that had been processing in the background of my brain without my conscious being made aware that this was happening. The result was a "sixth sense" type of feeling.

I was due to call our Realtor (whose name is Roger) to find out the status on the home inspection. Once the house had passed inspection the sale would be pretty much a done-deal and I could rest easy knowing I wouldn't have to juggle multiple mortgage payments. I decided that when I called I would ask Roger if there was anything else going on in the world about which I should know.

In the corner of the restaurant was a pay phone. This was in 2001 before everyone considered a cell phone a necessity, and one could still find pay phones. As an interesting aside, I didn't obtain a cell phone until ten years later in 2011 for reasons only I and Ted Kaczynski understand.

I dialed and when he answered his phone I asked him, "Roger this may sound like an odd question, but is there something big going on today that I don't know about?"

In retrospect, at this point in time I was in the vast minority of people on the planet who was unaware of the events that had transpired that very morning. I'm sure Roger thought I was being insolent when I asked him that question so he replied with an equally sarcastic, "You mean other than two planes hitting the World Trade Center towers and them collapsing, one plane crashing into the Pentagon and another plane being hijacked and flown into the ground? No, other than that there's nothing going on."

The words were difficult to comprehend. I heard what Roger had said but my brain didn't immediately allow belief in their accuracy. Events like this had never happened during my lifetime, so I was ill-equipped to accept and properly deal with them. This unpreparedness is a good thing. It is better to live a life where tragedy blindsides you, rather than for it to be so commonplace that you are left unfazed.

I explained to Roger that we had been in the car all morning and didn't have the radio on, so I was unaware of anything that was happening until this very moment when he told me. Once Roger figured out that I wasn't making a poor attempt at humor he filled me in on all of the details. As an aside, he also said that he also hadn't yet received the results of the home inspection.

After I hung up I returned to the table where Amy sat finishing her meal. I repeated what Roger had told me and she too assumed I was joking around. I assured her that I wasn't, and that I wanted to hit the road again so that I could listen to the news reports on the radio and try and make sense of what was happening. I paid for our lunch and we got back in the car. I suspect (rightfully so) that at this point in time Amy thought I was exaggerating about what had happened.

As we headed back south towards Kansas City, it was easy to find a radio station carrying a news report. In fact, it would have been difficult to find a station not reporting on the events. Every station to which we tuned was broadcasting a news feed from a major affiliate. I don't think there is such a thing as unbiased media in today's world. I finally settled on NPR, simply because I liked their announcers' voices.

We listened. A majority of the events had transpired three hours previously. At this point in time, however, the complete details were still not known. We were unaware if the attacks were over, or if this was simply a lull in the storm with more attacks waiting to be carried out. We weren't even sure who it was that was causing all of the mayhem.

So far all of the activity had been isolated to the New York/Washington D.C. area, but nobody was sure if other cities were going to be targeted. All of the existing attacks had utilized planes, but what if there were other methods waiting to be employed? As we were approaching Kansas City I remember feeling a bit uneasy. KC is a fairly large metropolitan area. What if they were attacked while we were passing through? What if nuclear devices or chemicals were part of a next wave? The radio announcers weren't helping put us at ease with all of the speculation they were offering, but the role of the media is rarely ever to put us at ease. Obviously, we made it through Kansas City without any issue as there were no further attacks that day.

There were news reports that President Bush himself was being targeted (this was later to be determined mostly false.) He had started that morning in Sarasota, Florida but had since been moved to the air base near Shreveport. This didn't do much to help our uneasiness as that was where we were heading. What if a large attack on the President happened while we were in town? At least we weren't due to arrive in Shreveport until sometime tomorrow. This evening's journey was only to take us as far as Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Later in the early afternoon it was reported that the President was being moved to Offutt Air Base in Omaha. I did a little mental calculation and figured out that Shreveport was directly south of us, and Omaha was directly north of us. If you drew a straight line between the two, it stands to reason that at some point in time Air Force One would be flying overhead. In addition, with the day still being completely cloud-free I determined that no matter how high they flew, the plane should be easily visible from the ground. Couple this with the fact that every other plane in the country was now grounded. I started scanning the skies as we drove to see if I could get a glimpse of the President's plane.

Sure enough, we were south of Kansas City when I spotted a small dot high in the sky, leaving a vapor trail. There was no doubt that the plane was Air Force One. I found this intriguing both from my interest in military aircraft, as well as there is very little else to do while driving through southern Missouri.

It was now approaching late afternoon, and some three hours had passed since we had heard the news of the morning. No further attacks had occurred, and we realized that now the reporters were repeating the same news over and over, as new information was slow to trickle in. Somewhere around the city of Joplin, MO, Amy requested that we take a break from the news and listen to some music. I reluctantly obliged.

Close to the Arkansas border we stopped at a gas station to fill up and take a short break. I used the pay phone and called Roger to get an update on the house inspection. He stated that the inspection occurred, but he still hadn't yet heard anything. I remember hanging up the phone frustrated with the day. The terrible tragedy of the morning, the dull drive of the afternoon and the stressful uneasiness of a home sale was starting to accumulate and make me weary.

Thankfully, Fort Smith was only a little more than an hour away. I was looking forward to relaxing in the air conditioned motel room, and watch some TV. We had heard radio reports that some of the attack had been caught on film, but because we'd been travelling we had yet to see any footage.

The last stretch of the day's drive passed slowly. The beautiful scenery of north-western Arkansas was overshadowed by the weight of the day. It was hard to enjoy anything.

Finally at dusk we pulled into Fort Smith. As we drove through town looking for the motel at which I had made reservations several weeks prior, I noticed that all of the hotels in town had "No Vacancy" signs. Fort Smith is not what I would describe as a tourist destination, so I reasoned that with all of the planes grounded nationwide, any town with an airport probably was sold out of hotel rooms. I was thankful I had made reservations!

We found our motel, which at the time was the Quality Inn on Towson Avenue. As we were to discover, this was the most inappropriately named motel in existence. A quick internet search leads me to believe that this motel no longer exists. I can understand completely if someone decided to carry out a mercy killing with a bulldozer. If it is still around then even Google itself has started to deny its existence, which is also understandable.

Of course I can't make a statement like that without describing in detail our experience on this evening. As I mentioned before, we really wanted a quiet room with a TV where we could relax and visually catch up with the day's events. I went in to the office to register and get our room key.

There was a line in the lobby of people seeking rooms, as I suppose was the case in every hotel across America on this particular evening. I listened as the man behind the desk explained in turn to each person that they did not have any rooms available, and that he did not know of any other hotel with rooms available.

As I stood there waiting, there was an elderly woman in the lobby. Occasionally she would scream out words in a language I didn't understand. The words sounded like a southern Asian dialect such as Bengali, but I don't claim to be a linguist. She would have a short outburst at nobody in particular, and then sit quiet for a minute or two until it would happen again. I attempted not to stare, but it was difficult. I strongly suspect that the woman suffered from Tourette syndrome. It was eerie as I had never witnessed anything like this first-hand.

When it was my turn in line the man at the counter proceeded to recite the same speech he had given everyone else about not having any rooms available. I informed him that I had made reservations several weeks prior and that I had a confirmation number. It took him a couple minutes for him to grasp that I was telling him I already had a room reserved and just needed to check in, but finally he figured it out.

I got my room number and key, and went out to the car. We drove around to the north side of the building where our room was located and pulled up. The first thing I noticed before I even got out of the car was that the door to the room was sitting wide open.

We walked in to the room and were immediately unimpressed. The overall condition was rather poor and it looked like the cleaning staff had only been "hitting the highlights" for several decades. By this point I was in dire need of the restroom. I went in the bathroom and flipped the light switch only to see several black spots scurry for the corner. Roaches no doubt. Great.

After finishing up in the restroom, I walked out debating whether or not to tell Amy about the roaches. If I did tell her she would demand another hotel, of which finding one on this particular day didn't appear likely. If I didn't, she would figure it out soon enough anyway. Before I could say anything however, Amy stated, "There's no T.V."

She had opened the armoire where the TV had been located only to see an empty shelf with a bare cable wire staring back at her. On any other day I probably would have argued to just live without a TV for the evening. However with all of the events that had transpired on this particular day, having a TV in our room was nearly as important as having a bed. I walked back to the office to see what I could do, thinking that maybe their maintenance guy had another TV they could place in the room.

After getting the attention of the man behind the desk, I explained to him that there was no TV in our room and we really, really wanted to watch TV that evening to catch up on the room. He stated emphatically that, "All room have TV." [sic]

We went back and forth. Me trying to convince him that our room didn't have a TV and him insisting that every room did indeed have a TV and we just didn't see it. Finally he agreed to take me to the room and show me where the TV is located. He left the front desk in charge of what appeared to be his daughter and led me across the courtyard to the other side of the building where our room was located. I started to second guess myself that maybe there was a TV somewhere else in the room and that Amy and I both had not seen it.

The manager walked into the room, past Amy who was sitting on the bed and over to the armoire. He opened the doors in a manner where his non-verbal communication was clearly conveying that Amy and I were a couple of idiots. Upon opening the doors he stared for a moment into the empty cabinet, then suddenly turned to me and stated, "There's no TV in this room!"

Before I could respond with an "I told you so" he asked, "Where did the TV go?" As if Amy and I had any clue. If we knew we probably wouldn't be asking him.

I told him that I had no idea, but that when we arrived at the room the door was open. He called the maintenance guy on his walkie-talkie who came down to the room, opened the armoire and also asked, "Where did the TV go?"

After the two discussed the situation for a few minutes, both Sherlock and Watson came to the conclusion that the TV had been stolen. An astounding deduction.

I reiterated our desire that we really need a room with a TV so that we could catch up on what happened earlier on this day. I was saving the roaches in case I needed additional negotiating ammunition. No sense laying all of your cards on the table the first time around.

The manager and the maintenance man discussed the situation, and then the manager informed me they had one more available room which we could have instead of the current one. The only catch was that the door lock was broken. The master key worked in the lock but no other keys would work. They could let us in using their master key they use for all the rooms, but if we left the room and needed get back in we would have to go to the front desk to have someone open the door for us again. With few other options available on this tragic day, we agreed.

As it turned out, this other room was only three doors down from our current room. The manager opened the door for us, and before leaving made sure that there was a TV in this armoire. I suppose the fact that the door wouldn't open made it a lot more difficult for the contents to be stolen. While he was present I also inspected the bathroom for roaches, which thankfully weren't visible in this particular room.

With the manager gone, Amy and I flipped on the TV. Every channel was still providing news coverage of the attack. It wasn't too many minutes before we finally saw footage of the horror to which the rest of the country had already been witness: the video of the second plane slamming into the south tower at 590 mph. To say that seeing that footage for the first time was shocking was a huge understatement.

We sat and watched the news for about an hour. Finally we decided to go get something to eat. As we left our room, I noticed that the door wouldn't shut properly. The edge of the door caught ever so slightly on the frame preventing it from closing completely and locking. Pulling on the door didn't generate enough force to shut the door, so I opened the door all the way and slammed it shut as hard as I could. This time it shut and latched.

However, it also alarmed the person staying in the room next to us. A couple of seconds after I slammed the door a guy came barreling out of his room with a gun drawn. Caught completely unexpected by this sight, I stood there motionless and wide eyed staring at him. The gun wasn't pointed directly at me, but he didn't have it pointed away either.

He looked at me inquisitively. I looked at him with terror in my eyes. Not knowing what else to do, I sheepishly pointed at the door and said, "Our lock is broken. It won't shut unless I slam it."

Apparently my explanation was acceptable to him as he gave a soft grunt and retreated back into his room. It was obvious I wasn't a threat. FBI guys dress a lot better than I, and the DEA doesn't fill their pants when they see a gun. It was at this point in time I decided if I never return to Fort Smith, I wouldn't be upset about it.

By now it was past 8 PM. Neither Amy nor I were that interested in sitting at a restaurant. We decided to pick up some food and then return to our room where we would eat it. There was a Long John Silver's nearby that was open, and that sounded pretty good. Not the healthiest place we could have selected, as I suspect that Long John's even deep-fries their menus, but it was quick and close.

Returning to the hotel, Amy opted to wait in the car with the food while I went around and got the manager with the master room key to let me in. I walked around to the office. The woman with the Tourette's was gone, along with the manager. Instead, there was a young girl running the desk.

Ahead of me were five businessmen trying to get checked in. They had reserved two rooms, but wanted the bill for the two rooms split five ways. The girl didn't understand their request, and kept stating that they only had two rooms reserved for them, not five. They went around and around for at least 15 minutes. Finally one of the men said, "Just bill me for both rooms. It's not worth standing here trying to teach you math."

At long last I made it to the front of the line, however I had a hunch that like the previous men had experienced, explaining what I needed was going to be an exercise in patience. I told her that we don't have a key to our room, and that I need someone to let me in. She proceeded to explain to me that I need to reserve a room before I get a key, and that all of the rooms are taken.

Ah yes, my hunch didn't go unfulfilled. It took several minutes of debating with the girl. I finally had asserted my position definitively enough for her to make a call to the hotel manager. Apparently he explained it to her in language she could understand and she agreed to go open my motel room door. All I had at my disposal were nouns and verbs, which must not have been enough.

Nearly a half an hour after leaving Amy sitting in the car with steaming seafood, I returned to the room with the clerk. Amy wasn't too happy about sitting in the car for that long, and I wasn't too happy about having to argue with the clerk. We decided that to avoid any more hassle, we wouldn't leave the room again unless the building was on fire. Even if that happened, we'd give the guy with the gun a head start.

Speaking of the guy with the gun, I figured out that from the inside of the room I could apply enough body weight to the door to get it shut without slamming it. While attempting to sleep that night, cars would continuously pull up outside our motel room and remain running. I would hear a knock on the next room's door and some muffled conversation. After a couple of minutes the cars would then pull away. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what our neighbor was doing.

The next morning we awoke, and watched the news to see if any new developments had transpired during the night. Not much had changed. With a new day brought new speculation that further attacks were still waiting for us. Thankfully nothing had happened yet.

We prepared for the day. Today the plan was to drive the rest of the way to Shreveport. We decided that we would get everything ready, load the car and then look for some breakfast. That way we wouldn't have to hunt down someone with a key to let us in the room again.

I went to the front desk to check out, which given the fact that we didn't have a room key pretty much meant telling them "goodbye." I noticed the Tourette's lady was back sitting in the lobby, and started to wonder if she was the mother of the manager.

The hotel was supposed to have a continental breakfast. I'm not sure who originally gave them this name, but if I were travelling across an entire continent, I would need something more than coffee and toast. We ate a bit and then finished off our breakfast by hitting a Burger King drive-through.

As an update, it appears that the hotel does indeed still exist physically, but now uses the name "Relax Inn." For uncertain reasons (but those which can easily be speculated) the Quality Inn franchise now has a different location in Fort Smith. Search out the internet reviews for the Relax Inn in Fort Smith and you can see that my opinion seems to align with the general consensus. Anyway, back to our story...

Although we had about three-quarters of a tank of gas left, I decided to top off the tank. I stopped at a gas station at the edge of town. Upon pulling up to the pump I noticed that gas had jumped nearly a dollar a gallon overnight. Thankfully I didn't need much fuel.

When I went inside to pay, I struck up a conversation with the guy behind the counter. He told me that there had been a run on gas stations in the area and that's why the prices had jumped overnight. He also said that he had heard that stations across the country were running out of gas, and that prices were hitting $10 a gallon in places. I left the gas station with some concern that we might not be able to find gas when it was time to drive home, or if we did it would be too expensive for us to afford.

Of course I now know this was just another rumor, of which were in abundance during this time period. There were a few places that ran out of gas for the day, but there wasn't a nationwide shortage. Gas prices did elevate for a while, but nothing like what the clerk had said. There were stations that started charging exorbitant amounts for gas for a day or so on speculation, but the prices quickly returned to the same level as the rest of the country. This was just an example of the types of rumors that get started in situations such as these.

We had an uneventful drive to Shreveport. The news didn't offer anything we hadn't been hearing for the last 24 hours, although thankfully the fears of further attacks had so far been just that: fears. We stopped in Texarkana for lunch, and arrived at Shreveport mid-afternoon.

We were staying at the Red Roof Inn just off of I-20. This hotel was clean, but boasted the smallest hotel room I have ever personally witnessed. Our entire room could not have been larger than 10' by 10', including the sink. It was astounding how small it was. Still, it was a much better place than the "lack-of-Quality Inn" from the previous night.

We made all of the obligatory phone calls that one makes when arriving in town for a wedding. There wasn't anything happening this evening, so we were free to relax. We took a nap and watched some TV. The TV stations were still not showing anything but news coverage on every channel.

I was watching that famous moment on the afternoon of September 12th, as George Bush visited ground zero. Using a bullhorn he addressed the crowd which consisted mostly of rescue workers. As he spoke, someone from the crowd yelled out, "We can't hear you!"

Without hesitation, Bush responded saying, "But I can hear you. The whole world can hear you." The crowd erupted in applause and cheers, which morphed into a staccato chant of "U S A, U S A..."

I turned to Amy and said, "That was the most brilliant political move I've ever seen. He just won the hearts of millions." Indeed, soon after Bush's approval rating soared to 90%. Obviously he wasn't able to maintain that stratospheric rating, but on that particular afternoon I think the country could have been persuaded to crown him king had the option been presented.

In the weeks and months following the attacks, there was a surge in patriotism like none other I've witnessed during my life, surpassing even those during the bicentennial celebration of 1976. Stores were selling American flags faster than they could replenish their stock. Patriotic shirts and decorations were being proudly displayed. "God Bless America" replaced "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during baseball games. I even discovered there was more than one verse to the "Star Spangled Banner."

Eventually, the television's constant regurgitation of the same information grew wearisome. There still no channels carrying any diversion from reality, and regular television programming would not resume on some channels until the weekend. The boredom of sitting in a hotel room with no relief from the onslaught of media coverage of the attacks grew to be too great, and forced us outside the walls of our room looking for something that resembled actual life.

In the grand scheme of things, that's what every American had to do at some point. We could only sit in fear watching the direness of the situation play out before us for so long. Eventually we as a country had to accept that these attacks happened, that it was probable that someday they would happen again, and that in spite of these circumstances we had to get back to our normal American life.

Curiously enough it was this normal American life that these attacks were meant to destroy. I can't claim to know or understand the minds of those who carried out these dastardly acts. Whatever their reason, and whoever "they" really were, the end goal was to interrupt our normal American life and replace it with fear. They were successful for a season, but soon enough the nation carried on.

These days, more than a decade later, we remember the events of September 11th, 2001, but they do not define us. There were small changes to how we operate, particularly in regard to security, but by and large our lives continue on much as they did before the attacks. We remember that day with reverence for those who lost their lives, but not with fear that we will lose ours. Terrorism can only be successful when it inflicts terror. The fact that we as an American people have remained largely unchanged is a testimony to the real victory that happened on that day. While I am not audacious enough to state that an attack like this one will never happen again, I am fairly confident in believing that if it does, we will again rebuild and continue on.

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This page last updated on 07/11/2018