September 11th —Fifteen Years Ago

Fifteen years, boy does time fly.  It seems the older I get, the faster it flies.  Fifteen years ago, like you, I had no idea what tomorrow would bring.  I was waiting to get out of the hospital after a heart attack in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Fifteen years ago—late this afternoon—about 4:30 or 5:00, I didn’t know I should pay attention yet. I got out of the hospital and Pam and I went walking and picking up some things getting ready to fly back to Houston, Texas.

Fifteen years ago—tomorrow morning—we’ll get up, walk over to the Hospital and eat breakfast.  We’ll come back and be watching the news… The first Tower had been hit; smoke was billowing out of it.  People were trying to figure out how… on such a beautifully clear day, a plane could accidentally hit the Tower.  Then I saw a second plane behind the Towers… sightseer I guessed.

Then it came closer, closer and closer still.  IMPACT!  Fire, smoke… No, not a sightseer.  No, not an accident.  We were at war.

By the time Pam and I got to the Airport in Wichita Falls, the Pentagon had been hit.  I tried to reach my daughter in D.C… No luck.  I called my son in south Louisiana where he was a cop.  I told him to keep trying to reach his sister, that we’d be driving home and what route we were talking.

We drove to Bowie, Texas to a Wal-Mart.   Pam got food, blankets, flashlights, and water… I bought a Marlin .30-.30 and some ammo; we arranged everything in the car and headed home.  The skies were clear by that time; not a plane in the air.  Another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania.  The skies were clear; it was such a beautiful day.  We were at war.

All of us have a 9/11 story.  Where we were, what we saw, what we did and even how we felt.  What happened tomorrow—fifteen years ago—set the stage for everything that has happened since.

You know where you were, what you saw and what you did; but do you really remember how you felt?  Fear, yes.  Anger, yes. Uncertainty, certainly.  But also… also… also, pride. Resoluteness and a knowledge that we would persevere.

Just about every business in Houston flew the flag.  Most homes did, most cars did.  We were proud to be Americans… fifteen years ago tomorrow.

Fifteen years ago, in the days to come… we did go to war.  We lost more men and women. But we had the knowledge that we would persevere—fifteen years ago.  We looked at each other as neighbors—fifteen years ago.  We honored the Cops and Firefighters; they were our heroes—fifteen years ago.  We stood together, Democrats and Republicans—fifteen years ago.  We knew the words to the National Anthem and God help you if you were seated when it played—fifteen years ago.

But in a few short weeks, in about fifteen weeks, fifteen years ago, the malaise set back in —fifteen years ago.  Flags blew off the cars and lay along the highways—fifteen years ago.  Democrats and Republicans decided they would go back to their own agendas instead of the country’s—fifteen years ago.

Now, here we are fifteen years later, as of tomorrow.  Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on anything.  The news media is no longer unbiased, but actually bought and paid for in some cases. We saw a Socialist run as a candidate for a major political party and almost (kinda) get the nomination.  Here are some things to ponder:

-Fifteen years ago, few people had ever heard of Barack Obama.
-Hillary Clinton was a sympathetic (somewhat) figure, the wife of a philandering husband.
-Donald Trump was a business man.
-The IPhone did not exist.
-Facebook had not gone public yet.
-EBay, founded by a French-born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre Omidyar, was only six years old.
-None of us had ever heard of TSA or Homeland Security.
-Few of us had ever heard of Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein
-Most Americans trusted the Government more: IRS, while not popular was considered apolitical.  The FBI was considered an independent, incorruptible part of the government and Congress still (at least on the surface) tried to honor the Constitution.
-Lifestyles were the purview of those that lived them, not the general public and certainly not the airways.
-Americans felt free to vacation anywhere in the world, almost, and you didn’t need a Passport to go to Mexico or Canada.
-Multi-culturals became the dominate demographic in the country.
-The term Ground Zero was only associated with a nuclear detonation.
-The last U.S. budget surplus was in fiscal year 2001.

With apologies to the Eagles, I’d like to paraphrase a verse from “Lyin’ Eyes”:

I wonder how it ever got this crazy
I think about a girl I knew in school
Did we all get tired or did we just get lazy?
We’re so far gone… I feel just like a fool

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