Many days have been important to history in my 60 plus years of life on this earth. I have no recollection of a large number of these.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. I was six days shy of my fourth birthday. I have no memory of that.
When I was 8-years old, Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby was killed as he campaigned for President of the United States by Sirhan Sirhan on June 6, 1968. I must have been shielded from that by my parents because I don’t remember it.
Earlier in 1968, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr. also lost his life from an assassin’s gun. Although I studied King in college, I have no idea what I was doing on April 4, the year he was murdered.
I would have been a 9-year old when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. I’m sure mom and dad would have let me watch that on our 19 inch RCA color television. I do remember building and playing with a plastic model of the lunar module. But I don’t recall the actual event.
On April 10, 1970, on the day he debuted his solo album, Paul McCartney issued a press release announcing that the Beatles had broken up. I was never a big fan of their band, so that news did not register with me.
It was April 29, 1975, when the last Americans left Saigon — now known as Ho Chi Minh City, to communists from the north — by helicopter, signaling the end of the Vietnam war. I must have a terrible long-term memory, or maybe the fall of Saigon wasn’t important to me as a 15-year old.
I do know where I was and what I was doing 20-years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists deliberately flew American Airlines flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan.
It was 8:46 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03 a.m., the World Trade Center’s South Tower was hit by United Airlines Flight 175.
I remember that day.
I was at our Owensville office finalizing ads for that week’s publication. I remember we had a repairman working on our copy machine.
We couldn’t pull up the world wide web and watch a video of the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor on our Nokia cell phones.
Nor could we watch the images on our Bondi Blue iMac cube computers in the office. Twenty years ago, there were no social media. The term hadn’t been coined. Facebook and Twitter did not exist.
I heard of the attack by radio, like most people.
At first — not seeing any pictures or video until I went home for lunch — I didn’t think 2,977 lives would be lost that day, including 366 paramedics, firefighters and police officers.
From the reports on the radio, I knew it was a tragedy. But I never believed the towers would fall.
I kept waiting for a “movie” ending when the hero rushes in and saves everyone at the last minute.
On that day the heroes died. On that day, our world changed. For a few days after that unprovoked attack, Americans were actually united against a common foe.
In 2017 Connie and I, along with our daughter Abigail, visited the National September 11 Memorial in New York City. It makes your heart skip a beat as you feel the loss of life at that location.
I will also remember the day President Joe Biden turned over Afghanistan to Taliban terrorists and left Americans behind enemy lines.
Aug. 30, 2021.
The Taliban use a line from the book “The Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield, “you have watches, but we have time.”
After the last U.S. plane departed, there were photos and videos on the Internet of terrorists celebrating their victory over the U.S.
I’m afraid the world has changed again, and not for good.
Now, all we can do is pray for the American citizens left behind, that with the help of many veterans of Afghanistan, they find safe passage out. Two other areas need our prayer; better cooperation with our intelligence agencies to stop future terrorist attacks, and stronger, better leadership in our government.
The best way for that to happen is to vote for a more competent president in 2024.