Five years ago today I was in Sarasota, Florida, covering President Bush. He was visiting Booker Elementary School to talk about education.
|President Bush pauses for a moment of silence on September 11, 2001. Mitch Traphagen Photo|
On a nearby television monitor, I saw the first tower burning. Like most of the assembled press, I had no idea what was happening. We were told to quickly take our places as the president was about to speak. From him, I heard that both towers had been hit.
Despite being surrounded by media, I was strangely cut off from the news. I didn't hear the details until I made it back to my car after the president had left. As I drove, I heard the news that a tower had collapsed. I was in shock and began to wonder if this was the beginning of the end.
The thought of all the people in the towers, in the Pentagon and in the airplanes made me physically ill. It still does today. Remembering 9/11 is more than just marking a solemn day - it is remembering those who lost their lives on that day for simply going about their lives.
It's been five years since America was attacked in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Much changed that day, and much changed in the years following. But regardless of what has happened since, it is important to remember that one day in September.
I worried about my family. Prior to that day, my wife and I had joked around with each other about what we would do in the event of a cataclysmic event. "We'll meet here" or "We'll meet there" we would say without much seriousness. On that morning, I wondered if she remembered where "there" was - just in case. I worried how I would be able to get north to see my family again.
On that day, thousands of innocent victims lost their lives. Also on that day, Americans demonstrated yet again that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Through the horror and confusion of that one day five years ago, the search lights pierced the smoke and haze at Ground Zero in New York City to give proof through the night that our flag was still there.
September 11 In Pictures and Words (requires Macromedia Flash Player)
-- Mitch Traphagen, Observer News
In Your Words
Millions upon millions of words have already been written about September 11, 2001. But rather than repeating the words of analysts and pundits, we would like to hear from you.
How do you remember September 11, 2001?
We're looking to hearing from you. Please do keep in mind, however, that the anniversary of the terrorist attacks is also the anniversary thousands of people lost loved ones and friends. As such, please be respectful and thoughtful in your words.