Today marks the ninth anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2001.
I’ve always been a little torn about how to appropriately acknowledge the events of that date. Its meaning varies widely from person to person largely depending on where you, your family, and your friends were on that date. Your perspective may certainly also depend on whether you or those you care most about serve our communities as firefighters, police officers, or as other emergency service professions. It also depends some, understandably, on how your life has been affected by those events. Before 9-11, I don’t think any of us could have even imagined the number of our family members, friends, neighbors and even co-workers who would spend much of the next decade fighting in two wars on the other side of the world.
Our Twins had spent the night before beating the Detroit Tigers 3-2 on the strength of an impressive 8 innings of pitching by Joe Mays and a 9th inning triple by Torii Hunter followed by a Matt LeCroy sac fly. The win improved their record to 76-68. They would go on to finish second in the Division to the Cleveland Indians, in what would be Tom Kelly’s final season at the Twins’ helm.
On the morning of September 11, I was at the same place I almost always was on weekday mornings… in my office and at my desk, 1000 miles away from New York. One of the department’s Administrative Assistants poked her head in my door and mentioned that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. Even then, my reaction was more something along the lines of, “wow, that’s weird,” than anything approaching shock or concern. I opened up CNN.com on my computer and it didn’t take long before the full impact hit home.
I had several professional colleagues… people I had known for 10-15 years and considered good friends… who worked and/or lived in Manhattan. I began trying to contact them and eventually either heard directly or indirectly that all were safe. It would be a year later (I was with many of them at a conference on the first anniversary of 9-11) before I would hear all of their individual stories about just how they survived… and about their friends and family who were not so fortunate. I still become emotional just thinking about it.
As Twins fans, we remember 2001 as the year the Twins figuratively rose from the ashes and began what has become a decade of consistent competitive excellence. As Americans, we remember that time quite differently. Terrorists set our country on fire on 9-11 and we have been quite literally rising from the ashes of those Towers ever since.
Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most appropriate thing I can do to honor those who lost their lives on that day is to say thank you to the men and women who are putting their lives on the line today, doing their best to assure that nothing like that ever happens again.
So, to those who are serving us as local emergency response professionals and as members of our Intelligence Agencies and Armed Services…Thank you.