How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy. ~Paul Sweeney

10 years ago, I awoke to a beautiful morning very much like today. I worked in Pentagon City about a 1/4 mile from the Pentagon crash site.
While returning from getting coffee, the news was covering the 1st plane that went into the WTC. The 7th floor of my building was a buzz.

Moments later, we watched in horror as the 2nd plane went into the WTC.

Suddenly, it was no longer a beautiful day. I’d describe the mood of the floor as one of disbelief and subtle outrage.

Before we could really grasp what was going on, our building began to shake. The loud roar of the engines echoed in our hearts. We knew immediately another plane was going to crash.

The loud explosion rocked our building. The fireball seemed to reach the sky. People began to scream and run for the exits.

Fear and panic had ripped through the safety and comfort we held freely in our hearts.

As I watched the smoke, it dawned on me, my brother worked in the Pentagon. I called his office. The women who answered asked why I was so panicked. I told what was going on. Just as I finished, the alarm bells in the background began to ring. She said, “Tom is not here, I have to go.”

The plane took out a cell tower on its way in. It was near impossible to reach our loved ones. My only concern was to make sure my brother was okay and to convey the same to my wife.

Before I left the building, I sent an instant message to a friend in Atlanta telling him the news. He replied, stop spreading rumors, this news is not on the internet or TV. Nearest I can tell it took at least 15 minutes for the Radio/TV to announce the news. To this day, I still don’t know what to make of this curious reaction. This would only take seconds in today’s world.

As I exit the parking garage, the streets were full of people standing around. Seemingly paralyzed by what had just occurred. I can still see the looks on their faces. A look of not know what to do next. I saw the same looks here in DC during the earthquake a few weeks ago.

90 minutes and 5 miles later I arrived home. I was finally able to talk to my wife. I did not reach my brother until hours later. He was in the parking lot when the plane went in and immediately got in his car and left for home. I spent the rest of the day watching the news and praying for the families.

We all react to adversity in different ways. My reaction was calm. I did not feel fear, panic, or anger. I only felt a strong need to understand why these people felt the need to give their lives to make a political statement.

A tragedy occurred 10 years ago today. I have a special place in my heart for the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

We cannot change the way people feel about us. We can choose the way we react to the events in our lives. We can choose not to rush to judgment, to forgive and let go of the past. The events 9/11 have helped teach me this lesson.

How did the events of 9/11 affect you?  

Please feel free to share your 9 11 memories.