Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on 9/11

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years already.  My how a decade can pass by.  Everyone has a "where were they on 9/11" story.  Many people were at work, or going about their daily lives, staring in horror as that second plane hit the second tower, knowing their world would be forever changed.  And when the towers did collapse it sent a message to America.  One that we hadn't really thought of in the comforts of our white picket fenced suburban homes; we are not invulnerable after all.

My morning began unlike most on that day.  While it was morning in New York, it was evening where I was; just finishing up a 12 hour shift in Cairo West Air Base in Egypt.  I was part of an Air Force Security Forces unit deployed to Egypt for the Bright Star exercise.  Our mission was to provide real world security to the joint services involved in the exercise.  We were sitting in our HMMWV waiting to be relieved after a long day patrolling the flight line when one of the troops came out of the BDOC to show us the article he'd printed out about the attacks that had just taken place.  My partner and I stared in awe at the picture of the first smoking tower.  It was almost unbelievable at first.  We thought initially it was some part of the exercise.  Then the second tower hit, and things went crazy all over.  We were rushing all around the base trying to get everyone into what little hardened facilities we had.  The next few days were the longest days of my life...well save for one other instance which I won't get into in this post. 

In many ways though, I was really removed from what was going on.  Communication into and out of our location was strict and it became even moreso after the attacks.  While we were engaged in our mission in Egypt, our world was changing drastically back home.  It wasn't until I returned in November of that year that it fully sank in.  My wife telling me about all the media coverage.  About all the people that died that day and their stories and how gut wrenching it all was. 

I tend to keep my political beliefs out of the blog here, and I won't really delve into it.  Debates have raged for years on the topic from a political standpoint.  Did we deserve it?  And even, were we really behind it?  I'm not a conspiracy theorist myself.  To me what is important to remember on this day is the fact that we lost so many.  It is their lives that we should remember, not the causes or aftermath.  I know I will never forget.