Commentary -- Thoughts on 9/11 ... seven years later

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt.Col.) Hodges Viccellio
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Chapel
Sept. 11, 2001. It's 3:35 a.m. in Hawaii when the phone rings and my sister-in-law tells me we are at war.


"Turn on your TV!"

The horrors of the day fell upon me as they did for the nation and the world.
It's seven years later. It's time to look again at the images of that day. Planes fly into buildings ... buildings exploding, falling ... twisted metal creating some kind of ghost-like movie set, except its real ... people running down Manhattan streets fleeing what looks like a volcanic eruption.

In the days that followed, pictures of the fallen, flowers and flags are everywhere - Ground Zero, subways, TV programs, across the country - a constant barrage of unbelievable images, suffering, and a nation traumatized.

It's time to remember.

On that morning, a morning like any other and unlike any other, four commercial jet liners were hijacked by 19 terrorists. Fifteen were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Egypt and one was from London.

American Airlines Flight 11 collided with the North Tower. United Airline Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. United Airlines Flight 93 - whose ultimate target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House - crashed near Shanksville, Pa.

After burning for 56 minutes, the south tower fell at 9:59 a.m., followed by the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m. World Trade Center 7 collapsed later that day at 5:20 p.m.

It's time to grieve, once again.

Not counting the 19 hijackers, 2,998 people from more than 90 countries were killed. Emergency workers died as they attempted to rescue the other victims. Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank, lost 658 employees, the most of any employer. How does a nation grieve? Slowly, knowing we will never forget.

It's time to honor, always.

This seventh anniversary we pause to honor those who perished that day and those who have fallen in the War on Terrorism since. We honor them as heroes ... heroes like those on Flight 93 who put their country before their own lives and families and seized control of the plane forcing the hijackers to abandon their target.

Heroes like the New York Police and Fire departments who placed others before themselves in valiant rescue efforts. Heroes from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Reserves, National Guard, and our allies abroad who have and continue to deploy, leaving jobs, futures, and families to fight for freedom on foreign soils ... always with honor.

On this 9/11 anniversary, let us look, remember, grieve, honor and recommit ourselves to a world where peace and freedom guarantee dignity and safety ... no matter the cost.