Sixteen Years Later

Scott Willens, who joined the United States Army three days after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, pauses while reflecting by the South Pool on friends he has lost while on deployment during anniversary ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2012 in New York, New York, USA. POOL/Justin Lane/EPA

I will forever remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001. It’s etched in my memory the way that November 22, 1963 is for the older generations or even December 7, 1941 for those few who are still alive to recall the day that will live in infamy.

I had just walked into the office of my job in the Recreation Outreach Center at Germantown Baptist Church. My boss called me into his office and pointed me to the television displaying the aftermath of the first plane having flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings.

Neither one of us knew what was happening yet. Most at that time thought it was a freak accident. It wasn’t until the second plane struck the other WTC building that it became clear that it was very much a deliberate terrorist attack on American soil.

After all the smoke and debris cleared, just shy of 3,000 people had lost their lives. As monumentally horrific as that was, it could have been so much worse. Most of the people who worked in those buildings hadn’t made it into work yet, and many were led from the second building to safety before the second plane hit.

In many ways, you can almost use it as a historical marker. You can point to life before 9/11 and life since then. Air travel has drastically changed in the sixteen years since.

Maybe one good thing to come out of the tragedy is that we can’t take freedom and liberty for granted anymore. It’s not a given that everyone is a fan of democracy and there’s no guarantee that what we have will last forever.

It’s just one more reminder that, aside from death and taxes, the only true constant in this life is God. Every day you get with your loved ones is a gift and a blessing not ever to be taken for granted.

Sixteen years later, we still remember.

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