September 11, 2001 -- New York City; Washington D.C.
Courage can be the simple act of doing one's job in the face of conditions which defy the imagination...
For most Americans it began as a normal Tuesday. Thousands of residents of New Jersey and New York traveled to work that morning, using ferries, trains, buses or other transportation, as they arrived at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the two 110-story buildings that stood among the tallest in the United States.
Not terribly far away, in the nation's capitol, Defense Department workers traveled to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Armed Forces. One part of the wing neared completion of a remodeling project, and it housed a few Navy and Army personnel, but otherwise was largely empty.
At three airports on the East Coast, four jetliners boarded passengers for flights to the West Coast. Two were at Boston's Logan Airport. One was at Washington's Dulles Airport, and the fourth boarded at Newark, New Jersey. Two airliners from each of two major U.S. airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, departed their gates and took to the skies, soon afterwards to be hijacked by 19 terrorists.
We know most of the rest. Two Boeing 767's crashed into each of the two Twin Towers, beginning just before 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, setting them on fire, and eventually causing both to collapse. A third jetliner, a Boeing 757, crashed into the Pentagon, starting a fire and causing a partial collapse of part of the structure. A fourth jetliner, another Boeing 757, plunged from 30,000 feet into the ground, killing all on board, after courageous passengers battled the hijackers who had seized control and were headed toward the nation's capitol.
When it was over some 4,000 people were dead--including all the occupants of the four airliners. Many World Trade Center and Pentagon workers died, and many firefighters and police officers in New York City lost their lives.
We remember those who died as the result of such a senseless and cowardly crime--an act which blasphemes the faith of most of the world's Muslims--in whose name this savage act was committed.
America is far different from what these criminals must have envisioned it to be. It is a place where people are brave, hard-working, charitable, and far stronger than they must have imagined us to be. Above all, we are successful, and that must have been the crime they could not forgive of us.
The criminals who brought the Trade Towers down and damaged the Pentagon have gone on to their next life--the criminals who planned and funded it will probably not have to wait for the next life.
God Bless America...land of the free.