Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 7th Year

I turned on TV this morning to check out the news and Hurricane Ike. I had seen on the CNN website that the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial was going to be dedicated, but I did not realize how complete the coverage would be. The program at the Pentagon was beginning when we began watching. A powerful image of a regal ceremonial piper spread across the screen as he slow marched between the memorial benches playing Amazing Grace. Tears welled in my eyes as well as my wife's. Then he halted and played a hymn that was hauntingly lovely. Finally he slow marched behind the temporary stage to the final strains of Amazing Grace.

We were reminded by the announcers that the benches that line "The Park" were in memory of those killed at that site. 184 benches, one for each person killed. Depending on the way the benches faced denoted if they were killed on the aircraft or in the building.

In New York City the names were being read of every victim of the Twin Towers. In Pennsylvania a memorial was held for the heroes of the aircraft who crashed the plane into the countryside by attacking the hijackers. One mission was not successful, but some wonderfully brave citizens paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I am touched deeply by those events. The heroism displayed on all fronts, the desperate attempt to rescue victims, the final act of heroism by the passengers of the hijacked aircraft all speak to a higher level of human response to threat and attack. I cannot imagine the fear and anguish felt by hundreds trapped in the floors above the airplane crash sites on the Twin Towers when they knew there was no salvation. I find it amazing that hundreds of firemen would rush into the building, receiving the last rites from their Chaplin on the way in. I find it almost overwhelming to think of the passengers on the hijacked aircraft collectively coming to a decision that pretty much recognized they were not going to get out of their situation alive but that at least by doing something they had a chance, or would thwart the aims of the terrorists. The heroism of the people at ground zero at the Pentagon is equally amazing.

An old quote says these were the worst of times, they were the best of times. I salute those heroes. As John McCain said, I am in awe of their heroism and in debt to their service. God Bless all of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

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