Never Forget

If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate. —Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, in Shanksville, Pa., in 2002

The following column has been slightly edited from a previous column…

Today we take a moment to remember September 11, 2001. It seems just yesterday that our country was attacked – but it has been 16 years.

On that day I remember staring at the television in shock. When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I hoped and prayed that it was a replay of the first plane hitting it. It wasn’t. I hoped like many folks that the whole thing was just a dream. It wasn’t.

At that time I worked for U.S. Senator Conrad Burns in Great Falls, Montana, and I was scheduled to attend a meeting the morning of September 11 at Malmstrom Air Force Base. As I showed my ID to at the base gate, a breaking news alert came on my car radio saying a plane had hit the Pentagon – my Pentagon – our Pentagon. My thoughts shifted to friends and former colleagues who worked there.

As a former security specialist with the Air Force, when I departed the meeting an hour or so later to head back to my office I saw a change in security procedures at the base that I had never seen before – and I knew that our country had changed. We had been attacked and we were now on our highest alert.

Many things have changed since those horrific attacks. Our country came together and united in the fight against terrorism. I remember our elected officials – Republicans and Democrats – in Washington standing on the Capitol steps that evening and singing, “God Bless America.” We stood in defiance against terrorism. Americans were united. We found heroes in the first responders and those who performed acts of bravery on that day.

Yes, it’s been 16 years and our memories are somewhat faded now. As a Nation, we must always remember the events of September 11, 2001.

God Bless America.