I don’t know where you were on that fateful day but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at work as a software engineer writing satellite communications code for the aerospace industry. The day had started like any other day, a cup of coffee at my desk, yesterday’s emails to review, a few notes to guide the day’s programming efforts in a makeshift stack on my table.
At about 9:00 a.m. the first email came in, a passenger jet had struck the Twin Towers. I didn’t think too much of it, I assumed there had been some sort of catastrophic malfunction onboard resulting in a terrible accident. I could hear the keystrokes of my co-workers as they continued their work, no one said anything. Twenty minutes later another email arrived, a second airliner had struck the second tower. I was instantly aware that New York was the victim of a terrorist attack but I assumed that would be the end of it and that the military would be on the case quickly sorting out the culprits and the response. I kept working and so did my co-workers, but I could hear the indistinct conversations starting up in our four man cubicles. I picked up my land line and called my wife, I said “turn on the TV”. She said, “What, why?”… I said, “I can’t…”, I couldn’t think of any words, “Just turn it on”.
Soon more emails began to arrive, air traffic was being grounded and more planes in the air were not responding to air traffic control communications. It slowly settled in on our group that something huge could be in progress… I logged into the direct channel to see if anything was being said on the daily briefings but there was nothing. A half hour later reports arrived that the Pentagon had been hit and everyone knew we were at war. By this time it had become impossible to work and my co-workers and I began to make our way to the break room where where we could see out the only windows in the building and also where we knew that CNN would be broadcasting on the monitors, back when CNN actually reported news.
By the time the first tower fell the entire facility was in the break room watching in horror, as the events of the day unfolded. As F-16s began to scramble from Buckley AFB we became aware that the base and perhaps even our own facility could be a target, soon the announcement came over the loudspeaker that any employee who wished to go home was welcome to leave but no one did. For hours we all remained glued to the news monitors while F16’s screamed overhead. No one spoke and many tears were being dried as initial estimates of up to 30,000 dead began to be discussed. Fortunately for some reason there weren’t as many people in the towers as there are sometimes and the estimates were rapidly revised down to under 10,000. Eventually employees began to trickle back out of the break room and back to our workstations where we began to fight the war in the only way we knew how, with our minds and our computers.
Today as I watch the 20 year anniversary of those attacks on the news our nation is divided like it never has been before. Our leaders have subjected our nation to an ignominious defeat at the hands of the very enemy who attacked us then. Hundreds of Americans are trapped behind enemy lines, subject to the barbarous impulses of the savages that we have held at bay for two decades. Our foolish leaders have lost sight of who our real enemies are, once again erecting razor wire around the capital to defend against a non-existent enemy that they have conjured up in their fearful cowardly deluded depraved minds.
I can’t think of any better quote to sum up the lesson we need to learn on this day, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”. Don’t let our leaders accomplish in our minds what our enemies could not achieve on the battlefield.