I vividly remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard what was happening in New York City on that horrible day, September 11, 2001. I had gotten up early after working swingshift the night before. I had to go to a parole hearing, so with little sleep, and after a quick shower, a cup of coffee in hand, I jumped in the car, a 1970 Datsun Roadster, and headed off to work. I was driving through town heading to the station and had only gotten a few miles from my house when I turned on the radio and heard that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.
It was so surreal. I honestly thought it was some sort of “War of the Worlds” kind of stunt, so I picked up my cell phone and called my wife at home. She was still sound asleep and I woke her up. I asked her to turn on the TV and tell me if there was anything on the news. She turned the TV on, and from the scream she let out, I knew it was true.
I got to the station, threw on my uniform and geared up. I loaded my patrol car and headed to the parole hearing. There were no smart phones at the time, and my department’s patrol cars at that time did not have AM/FM radios in them, so I was completely in the dark as to what else was going on. I got to the parole hearing and sat in the waiting room with a bunch of other cops. We all sat there, fixated on the tiny TV in the room, watching the footage, rolled over and over, of the plane hitting the tower. As we watched, the second plane hit. After about 30 minutes, we were told the hearings were all cancelled.
I got back into my patrol car, and even though it was a full 7 hours before my shift was supposed to start, I got a hold of one of the sergeants and asked if he would like me to hit the field, which was met with a very quick, “yes please.”
Calls for service, early in the day, were quite routine, and it was eerily quiet (low call volume). As the day progressed, and as the news began coming out about terrorist involvement, all the paranoid crazy people started coming out of the woodwork. The sheer volume of calls about Middle Eastern men wearing a turban or some other sort of headwear, walking down sidewalks, driving taxis and ice cream trucks, or just being seen in a store, was staggering.
Every single person I contacted that day was in shock. Store owners, pedestrians, drivers, sandwich artists, hell, even the dirtbags were in shock and were acting like normal human beings, if only for a few days.
On that day, 9-11-01, I had been a cop for a few days short of five years. But that day, that very day, was my first day as a solo, finalized patrol cop. I had worked in the jail and an administrative job up to that point, and only recently come to patrol. I had taken the final test the night before, and passed. This was supposed to be a celebratory day for me. Clearly, that was not going to happen.
I spent 17.5 hours in my patrol car that day. I took a couple of reports. I contacted dozens of people, most of whom I do not remember, all of whom were devastated, even the turban wearing Middle Eastern guys that everyone kept calling about.
I got home from work that night, well, technically very early the next day, and crawled into bed at about 1:30am to my wife who was still awake. She was still in shock, and had been crying a lot that day, which for her was not normal as I don’t recall seeing her cry before, ever.
We hugged, and talked about what had happened, about all the lives lost, and about the need I felt to set my career aside and enlist in the military, so I could go help hunt and eliminate the chicken shit bastards who just killed thousands of my fellow Americans in a most cowardly way. My wife, who had just found out she was pregnant with my oldest son, convinced me to stay here and to continue my career keeping our community safe. It is a decision I made, and 364 days of the year, a decision I am happy with, but there is that one day of the year, today, 9-11, where I regret not signing up to go hunt the animals who attacked us.
The following day, I woke up and turned on the news. I was greeted by vivid reminders of what I love about this country. People from all walks of life, from every color and creed, all came together for a single purpose. That day, 9-11, was for my generation what December 7th was for my grandparent’s generation. They were both days that brought this country together, gave us focus, gave us purpose. It is sad that it takes horrible events like those to bring us together.
That day, and some of the days that have followed, especially recently, remind me of a great quote from Ronald Reagan: “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong”
Sadly, we as a nation continually prove that we do not learn from our past. As the threat we were and still are fighting has diminished, the country has once again gotten soft. People with very short memories, and even less intestinal fortitude, quickly grew weary of maintaining vigilance. The sheep, who were briefly awakened to the cold reality of evil, by the wolf pounding on their door, have gone back to grazing is blissful ignorance.
If you need an example of that blissful ignorance, look no further than what college students are being taught about that horrible day from only 14 short years ago. Is our memory really that short?
Apparently it is.
Americans have elected leaders with no experience, no plan and no spine who continually capitulate to our enemies. They have chosen people without honor who refuse to respond when American’s call for help. They chose men who side with criminals and terrorists instead of with soldiers or first responders. They have chosen cowards who have weakened our country, and shrunken our military. The soft headed people of this once great nation have chosen, once again, to put this country on a road which will once again lead to the inevitable; to an attack by yet another foreign power, whether it is terrorist group, a foreign country, or a country run by terrorists.
And we will once again awaken temporarily from our intentional blindness, but only for a fleeting moment, just as long as our collective short term memory lasts.
For our sake, and the sake of our children and grandchildren, I hope and pray that America will open her eyes and really wake up, before it is once again too late, and more lives are lost.