It was about 8:00 AM in Houston when I first realized there may be something bad happening in New York. Contributors to a financial website I followed were chatting about some sort of explosion at the north tower of the World Trade Center. The source of the blast was unknown at that point.
I walked back to the customer waiting room in our service center to find any news coverage on the television. Pete Morin, at the time the Director of West Harris County EMS, was also there. We watched the unfolding horror in silence. I was sick to my stomach. Much of the rest of the day was a blur, but I do vividly remember being at home later, holding my daughter, one year old at the time, watching the news, and wondering just how bad things might actually get. As the shock gave way to sadness, it became unrelentingly evident.
Plenty of people and sites have compiled timelines of the events. There are, no doubt, numerous posts in your social media feeds with links to news footage or audio of Flight 93 and the extraordinary acts of courage carried out by those passengers, so there’s no reason to try and recap all of that here.
When I visited the Memorial and Museum earlier this year most of those memories came flooding back. It is a somber and poignant reminder of not only the destruction and horror, but also of the collective heroism carried out by people in all walks of life, some clinging to survival, some risking all so that others might survive. First and foremost among those were the first responders of FDNY, NYPD, and the surrounding agencies that rushed headlong into an apocalyptic disaster with virtually no idea what was going on.
We cannot ever completely express our appreciation and gratitude for the work that you, our friends and family in the first responder community do every day to protect and serve your own communities. We certainly never take it for granted. Without you, many among us would be utterly lost in times of crisis.