Sunday, September 11, 2011


Yesterday I went for a haircut to get ready for drill with the California State Military Reserve.   The TV at the shop was showing the news.  The young man said he hoped that there wouldn't be any mention about 9/11.  "I'm tired of it" he said, "they should just stop talking about it."   He went on "it was just a bunch of sand n------s anyway who got a lucky hit on us.  Enough about it.   Besides, no one remembers the Maine or Pearl Harbor anymore now anyway."   I sould have walked out but he was halfway through the haircut so I said that 9/11 is our generation's Pearl Harbor.   I let the conversation stop.  I didn't want to talk to him anymore.

Several days before 9/11 I saw young daughter off at the airport as she left for basic training for the Air Force.  I stood at the window at the gate and waved goodbye to her, thinking about the big adventure that awaited her.   The morning of 9/11 I rode by bike to the commuter train station as usual.  It was dark at 6 a.m. and as I pushed my bike along the train platform I heard a couple men talking about a small plane that had crashed into the World Trade center in NYC.  They were laughing about the stupid pilot that could do something so dumb.    I had read a book about a B-25 bomber that crashed into the Empire State building in 1945 so I knew it could happen.  I also knew that this couldn't be a good thing.  When I got off the train in Burbank I plugged my little radio into the earbuds and set off for the 8 mile commute to work.  The oldies station I usually listened to had pre-empted their music line up and were instead co-broadcasting the coverage from the AM all news station in L.A.   As I listened to the live coverage and realized what had happened I started to cry.  Yes I admit it, I was bicycling along with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I cursed out loud whoever had done this and said that nothing, absolutely nothing would be the same again.  I thought about my daughter who was just starting basic training.  I thought about my son who was still in high school and my family and friends who were serving in the military and those who lived scattered all across the country.  Could any of them be on an airplane?

The Missus and I went to Texas to see young daughter graduate from Air Force basic training several months later.   The air base was on a war footing and security was tight.  We were proud to see her graduated and be an airman in the Air National Guard.  I volunteered to serve on active duty immediately after 9/11.  The military was ramping up for a response and for war.  But apparently the Army didn't feel they needed a guy who was out of the Army for 5 years after 20 years of intermittent service.   I got a nice certificate of appreciation from the Army for volunteering as a consolation.  Older son joined the CAARNG and went off to basic training in South Carolina.  Young son, the Missus and I went to his basic training graduation.  The training battalion did a ceremony to commemorate the deaths of seven Army rangers who had recently been killed in Afghanistan.  The combat deaths in that zone were so low that the deaths of seven soldiers was remarkable.  Little did we know what was coming.   I joined the California State Military Reserve, a state defense force, after my request for active duty with the National Guard was also turned down.  I faced facts and acknowledged that there is no fool like an old fool and accepted that the best I could do to help in the war was to serve where I could.  

Older son went on to serve on three activations, one in Iraq.  Young daughter still serves with the CANG.  Life has changed significantly for all of us and for the world.  Who is winning and who has lost?  Others will write about that at great length.  I will say that in one area that really matters, supporting our servicemen and servicewomen, this country has come together.  Young son's Eagle scout project of constructing and shipping 200 comfort kits for a Marine battalion in Afghanistan is a great success due to the very, very generous support from the community.  Compare this to Vietnam and post Vietnam when to be in the service was frequently treated with contempt by the non serving population.  I joined post Vietnam and was harassed when in uniform and even got harassing phone calls at home when I was in the National Guard from someone who knew I was in.  Now people recognize the sacrifice that the military is making for the country.

So, here we are, 10 years after 9/11/01.   Life has changed permanently for all of us.  We are at war and probably will be for a long, long time.  Will there be other 9/11s?   All we can do is love our family and our friends and make life matter each day.  

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.


  1. A very nice post, remembering a terrible day.

  2. It's hard to imagine that my daughter was born into a world that was already permanently changed by 9/11. It is a terrible tragedy to me that things like Pearl Harbor, and someday, 9/11, are lost to history, mattering less and less to each passing generation.

    It wasn't until I visited NYC for the first time in 2007 that I fully grasped what it must have been like to be there on that day. Looking up, I couldn't imagine how shocking and horrifying it must have been to see commercial airliners flying so low overhead. It feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago that it happened.