Tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of one of the worst days in our country’s history. It’s a day that should be a day of mourning, and it should also be a day when we all pause and reflect.
I remember so many things about that day, right down to the clothes I wore to work on the morning of September 11, 2001. I also vividly remember the afternoon of September 3, 2001 (Labor Day), as I was driving back to Pennsylvania from playing a wedding gig up at Lake Placid that weekend. I remember this because I got on the New Jersey Turnpike by the Meadowlands, and I remember seeing the World Trade Center on a perfectly sunny afternoon. I had no idea at the time that this would be the last time I’d see the towers in all their glory.
I had gotten to work at The Vanguard Group in Valley Forge at 8:15 the morning of 9/11. My co-worker Mike Cianciulli and I had been talking about the Monday Night Football game the night before (the Giants lost to the Broncos), and as we came back to our desks after grabbing breakfast in the cafeteria and continued to talk about the upcoming football season, somebody interrupted us to inform us that a plane hit one of the Twin Towers. We assumed it was a small plane and that it was a freak accident. That’s when our lives changed forever – it took forever to get online, and the first image I saw was the humongous hole in the tower with smoke and flames pouring out. It was beyond surreal, and I remember racing to a nearby conference room which had a TV. We turned on the news not more than a minute before the second tower was hit, and there was no question that our country was being attacked.
We watched in shock and horror – I remember the image of a lady waving what looked like a towel as she was helplessly sitting in a window of one of the towers a few floors above the fire raging below. We watched firemen and policemen answering the call of duty, not knowing that it would be their last and bravest act of heroism. We saw tremendous acts of bravery and sacrifice over the next three hours that morning that should never be forgotten, from New York’s Bravest and Finest, to the courageous people on Flight 93.
We all remember the days that followed – people frantically searching for loved ones, lost person posters covering every telephone pole and available wall space for blocks from Ground Zero…..in all of this darkness, we also saw a light of hope and resiliency – first it was the image of the firemen who lifted the American flag at Ground Zero….then it was the chants of “USA! USA!” heard by those volunteering at Ground Zero to find their fallen comrades. One image that I will ALWAYS remember was when Congress all stood together on the Capitol steps to sing “God Bless America.” These were very unchartered waters, but we all came together in support of each other, and with our common focus and hurt as Americans. Social media did not yet exist, and the Internet was still used for more good than evil. The phrase “United We Stand” had deep meaning, as we were all in this together.
Here we are, 19 years later…..in some ways, 9/11 all but seems a distant memory. Words of unity have been replaced by words of division and hate. I can’t help but wonder how different the reaction would be if a tragic event of this magnitude happened in 2020 – would this bring us all together again, or would fingers be pointed while buildings collapsed? The events of 9/11 did not discriminate – people of all colors, backgrounds, creeds and preferences died because of the acts of one incredibly evil group of people.
How is it that 19 years later, we’re seeing such evil and hatred amongst Americans, as evil groups of people are using both their words and their actions to cause harm to other people? How did we lose our focus and unity? The days that followed 9/11 were somber, but it was also one of the last times we put our differences aside and we were all AMERICANS. We were pissed off at Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, and we all wanted to see our troops find him and KICK HIS ASS.
I have a challenge to all that read this blog post – for one day tomorrow, put aside your differences – take a break from railing against those who don’t agree with your beliefs. Take time to focus on commonalities instead of differences. Take a day to remember those who perished 19 years ago, just for being at work, or on an airplane, or while trying to save the lives of others. These people were AMERICANS.
Let 9/11/2020 be the first step towards truly making our country great again.
UNITED WE MUST STAND. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸