This is a Reuters Photo of a day we will never forget. It has been almost four years since 9-11, and I think we need to remember that day in more than just a passing way. Obviously the families will never forget it. The country will never forget it. The world should not forget it, even though there have been terrorist attacks in other cities since then -- Madrid, London, Baghdad. But this was US. America.
A friend of mine works for American Airlines. His wife was a flight attendant for AA and used to fly on the Washington to Los Angeles flight. He knew Chic Burlingame and the rest of the flight crew from American Airlines flight 77. He even marshaled the airplane itself on that Tuesday morning. He will never forget it.
I have another friend who is a Fairfax County Firefighter. He got called to the Pentagon to help douse the fires that day and stayed there several days in a row to work on the damaged building. He will never forget it either.
I was working in the newsroom that morning when someone shouted from what we called "the Bubble" which is a glass-enclosed recording center. "Hey, turn on CNN, something hit the World Trade Center." After Atlanta, Oklahoma City and the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, we knew that it was probably not an accident. We all watched in horror as the day unfolded.
So do you remember? Do you remember how full the churches were after the attacks? Do you remember trying to understand why someone would do such a thing? Do you remember trying to find an American flag, anywhere, so you could fly one on your house or car or even put a sticker in your window.
I saw the flag that they flew from the Pentagon the other day at the museum of American History. Its' massive and it still has some of the stains on it from the burned building that it flew over. But it is still there. This is the White House's photo of the firefighters deploying it.
I remember how badly I wanted a flag that day. I couldn't find one. They were ALL gone. Target, WalMart, K-Mart, Costco, all the stores I tried were completely out of them. But now I can find them on the street -- no IN the street -- where they have fallen off someone's car. And no one bothers to pick them up. I can't stand that. Whenever I see one I have to stop and pick it up. I can't leave it.
It's funny. People say life has to go on. And I know it does. The Pentagon has been rebuilt. The memorial to those who died there and on Flight 77 is in Arlington cemetery. I even went to the service there last year and talked to the widow and son of one of the victims. She said that there are still times when she will have a circumstance confront her and she will think about "what would my husband do?" And she said she still needs him sometimes. The interview was particularly poignant for me because we were standing next to his grave.
Why did I get on this tack? Because the U.S. Open is about to start. A colleague of mine was covering the U.S. Open in 2001 and had flown over the World Trade Center on Monday, September 10th. He had wanted to go to the top of it but couldn't because of the weather and time pressure. He has told me that as he flew over he thought, "Oh well, I guess I'll have to do that another time."
Do you remember?