Friday, September 11, 2015



Fourteen Years After: Reader Remembrances
Yesterday, I asked our readers to share their feelings about the country since September 11, 2001. Fourteen years after the most devastating attack ever on home soil, there have been a lot of changes; not all positive. Today, we remember the lost lives, the courageous acts of average Americans and dedicated first responders through your words.

Your words have inspired me to keep working for change. And reminded me that if we pull together, we can make a difference.

      Thank you for all you do for all the rest of us.  In regards to 9-11, I have decided that I can no longer rage at the fools in Washington.  I can and will work to make what changes I can at the ballot box and hope for the best.  I have come to understand that I am unable to change the mind or heart of someone that is convinced that America got what she deserved, or that our response was wrong or that our war was wrong. I also know that they are unable to change mine.

       Instead, I remember.  My children remember.  In turn, my grandchildren are taught to remember.  We remember those who died.  We think of the loss of the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and fathers and wives and mothers.  We don't screen the pictures or the videos.  We watch the events unfold every year on Discovery or History.

       Mostly though, we celebrate our Military.  Our firefighters and our Law Enforcement.  This is the day we use as an example of what selflessness truly means.  This is the day of true service and sacrifice. Our eyes are wet and our hearts are full on this day.  Because we know that there are more of us than there are of them.  We are just quieter.

But that must end.  We fly our flags, we wear red, we wave to our LEO's and our firefighters and pick up the tab of any uniform that shares a restaurant with us.  We understand what it means to be a sheepdog.  We are an entire family of them.


       I had retired from the U.S. Army nearly 10 years before 9-11. Since I still lived in the Washington, DC area, the same house while on active duty, I thought to put on my battle-dress uniform and head into my old building to offer what help I could, but I soon realized I'd just be an old soldier in the way. One of my colleagues who was on active duty, and was assigned to issuing security credentials at the Pentagon crash site wrote the following:

       "During one of my shifts I slipped away from the security tent and stood as close as I could get to the Pentagon without causing a problem.  I marveled at the destruction, the smell, and the dust. I found myself staring up at the offices—cut away like rooms of a doll house.  There were desks and chairs and file cabinets and frames on the walls.  I wondered who worked at that desk, and whose kids once occupied those frames."


       14 years ago I was a freshman sitting in English class when the towers were hit.  Growing up a fireman's son I knew what was going on and how the responders were reacting, and was worried as everyone else that my town could be next.  I have lived in a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota my whole life and we do have some "high value targets" around us, the Mall of America, IDS Center, Federal courts and Federal Reserve depositories, so naturally we were all on high alert as things were coming in.  The pain and shock I felt that day has never gone away, I never knew any of the firefighters, police, ems, or public victims of the attack, but I cry every year as the date come around and I watch the same documentaries on TV.  The day had a profound impact on my life, I became a firefighter/ paramedic and have been doing that as a volunteer for close to 10 years now, and wouldn't give it up even for my regular job.


Editor's Note: There were many of you who responded, and no way to put everyone's comments into a single column. I want to thank each of you for your insights. You're always welcome to send me your thoughts, comments and criticisms. None of us is as smart as all of us.

- Jim Shepherd

A few pics to remember:

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