September 11, 2007

The 9/11 Flashbulb Memory

My route to campus usually takes me down Iowa Avenue, leading directly to the Old State Capital Building. This morning I was greeted by the morning sun glowing brightly off the Capital's golden dome with a backdrop of a crystal blue sky. Today though, the flag was flying at half mast and a bell forlornly tolled for the souls lost six years ago. On that day we experienced one of those rare flashbulb memories , the images of evil personified, forever seared into our minds. Natures way, I hope, of preserving those moments that should never be forgotten.

Sept. 11 2001: Five AM and I was just getting out of the shower in our Anchorage home when my wife somewhat causally told me that a plane had run into the World Trade Center. Being a pilot myself I imagined that I would see the empendage of a Cessna sticking out the window of the skyscraper. I grabbed a cup of coffee and was stunned to see the top of the tower in smoke and flames. A moment later I caught a split second glimpse of something shooting across the bottom of the screen and an explosion from the second tower. Realization, this was no accident. Another cloud of smoke and it took me a moment to realize that the South Tower was no longer visible. Working in the newspaper business at the time I knew this was going to be a busy day. The crew and I took turns strolling down to the TV in the break room and returning with updates as we prepared to produce a special edition that afternoon. At one point that morning we all went to the roof and searched the skies when rumors spread that an overseas flight was out of contact and possibly headed towards Anchorage...

Then as now I question how we could have let this happen when the danger was, to steal the aphorism "clear and present." But six years later it does little good to rehash the failures of the past but its more important that each of us question.

Question the motives of those that would downplay the threat as a bumper sticker slogan.

Question those that demean the ones, that six short years ago, we collectively asked to risk their lives to preserve the things we all hold precious.

Question those that have made a total disconnect with the war in Iraq and the war with extremist Islam but at the same time refuse to make the moral stand to achieve what they believe in.

Question those that claim we were powerless to do more prior to 9/11 because there wasn't support, when in fact leadership is the ability to build support from those that you are charged to lead and sworn to protect.

Question those that would return to the failed policies of the past.

Finally, and maybe most important, question how that flashbulb memory could have been so quickly erased from their mind.

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