Of course, I remember exactly what I was doing when the first tower was struck 19 years ago. I was driving to my office at The Holyoke Sun. The DJ on the local radio station reported hearing the news of an accident in New York.
Of course, just a few minutes later we realized it was no accident. We were under attack, but no one knew who was attacking the United States on its own soil.
Of course, everything changed that day. Time stood still. We gathered in the newsroom watching the story unfold in front of us. We quickly shifted gears to rework the front page, which was just a few hours from going to press. Our photographer had happened to take a photo of the Twin Towers not long before that historic day and it became our cover photo.
Of course, we told the stories we could gather. The people affected locally, but really, who wasn’t affected? We all were.
Of course, I recall all the American flags that waved in the days and months that followed. I was married just a few weeks later and the hall where we had our reception had a giant American flag on the wall behind the wedding party table. The hall manager asked if we wanted it taken down. We said of course not.
Of course, over time, the flags didn’t fly in as many places as they had in the fall of 2001 and the unity that Americans formed that day began to dissipate slowly.
Of course, we will never forget. We say that every year. We still owe a debt of gratitude to those first responders, those firefighters and police and paramedics who rushed into those burning towers as thousands rushed to make their way out. The folks fleeing the flames who stopped to help strangers. Those who offered shelter to the ones who escaped. Those who prayed as they watched from the streets and their homes around the world.
Of course, we do remember. But this nation has become divided by so many things: Politics, race, COVID. It seems many of us have forgotten that the way we got through Sept. 11, 2001 and its aftermath was by joining hands, putting aside our differences and acting as a country comprised of compassionate human beings.
Of course, we can do this again. We owe it to the 2,977 victims of those terrorist attacks, their families, and the thousands who died years later from illness related to the attacks.
Of course, we can do it.