Remembering Sept. 11

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert L. Maness
  • 377th Air Base Wing commander
Tomorrow will mark the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and regardless of where people were that day, I imagine everyone at first was numb with shock.

On that day nine years ago, I was assigned to the Pentagon and lived the horror of the attack on our nation firsthand.

The initial reports were vague, but as the day went on the reaction was the same -- disbelief.

I was at my desk when I heard about the first World Trade Center tower. I remember watching the second aircraft crash into the second tower and thinking, "This is no ordinary aircraft accident."

It was hard to imagine that we were being viciously attacked, without warning or provocation, on our own soil. We, as a nation, had not lived through that type of horror since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Despite the tragedy upon us -- not just in New York or at the Pentagon but across the nation -- I was amazed at the selflessness exhibited by everyone around me.

From the folks at the Pentagon who just started helping where they could . . . to the medics and firefighters who worked without hesitation . . . to the chaplains of all faiths who stood their ground offering comfort and prayer . . . all selfless . . . all heroes.

As part of the joint service team, the Air Force works every day to preserve America's freedoms as well as those of other nations.

All volunteers, we Airmen stand proud in our efforts to combat terrorism and serve our nation with integrity, selflessness and excellence.

The attacks on 9/11 not only strengthened our resolve but instilled a new sense of patriotism and pride -- a pride that is renewed in us every day as we pause during Retreat or Reveille to honor our country.

Our generation of Americans will continue to prevail and freedom will be preserved for future generations. We will endure against those who hide their cowardice behind the veil of terror against the innocent.

A few months after the attack, Sept. 11 was officially designated "Patriot Day" by then-President George W. Bush.

The day is an opportunity for us to remember and honor those we lost on that fateful day and the ordinary people who became heroes.

I know I will never forget what happened on that day in September -- it will also be embedded in my family's memory forever.

I encourage all of us to ensure that Sept. 11 never becomes "just another day" -- it is our duty and obligation as a nation to always remember.