... suffering back spasms. It was 09 SEP 2001, TUE and I had started my day being barely able to get out of bed, hobble down the stairs, make myself breakfast, take care of our cats and then relax so muscle relaxants could do their thing.
I remember my lady calling me into the living room to watch, in horror, the smoke rising from the upper floors of the first WTC building hit.
Then the reports about the Pentagon.
Spurious reports going on in DC, particularly about the State Dept.
Then the second WTC plane hit, and I remember the fireball it blasted out the other side of the building.
Minutes, mere minutes.
Reports of something going on in the air and all the commercial and civilian activity being shut down, planes trying to find someplace to land...
Pennsylvania a jet down. All lives lost.
I received a call from my boss making sure I was all right.
I worked in a civilian agency in DoD. During the threatened shutdown in the '90s we were told who was important enough to come in to work without pay if it came to that. I was one of those who would do so.
An honor to volunteer to work supporting the warfighter and be accepted for that.
Our work sites in DC had been evacuated on 9/11.
My building was on the flight path of Flight 77.
There are many such targets for those diverting a plane to kill wantonly to instill terror. To instill fear. To enforce their will upon others and cow them into submission.
We would be closed for three days, with only a few designated for maintaining buildings coming in then quickly leaving, under the watchful eye of the National Guard.
I was in shock.
And disgusted by those who would take such life on such scale without justification, cause or reason. No Nation did that to America, but armed fanatics enforcing their will upon the world.
When we did re-open, I asked to be put back into a direct support position that I had recently left.
Our citizen soldiers were going in harms way for us all.
Handing discs and satchels over to uniformed couriers heading directly out to the waiting forces who needed those before they left has ever been one of the most satisfying of my life.
In absolute pain due to my back.
It took me 20 minutes to walk the few hundred feet from a parking space to the building.
And 20 minutes back when my shift was over.
Whatever my pain, my physical problems, nothing would keep me from my job.
I remembered what had happened to our Embassies around the world and remember the fateful morning I drove past the CIA entrance in 1993. We were in the same business, but different lines of it and I considered those men and women to be on the front lines of a Private War declared upon us all. Working after 9/11 reminded us all about how our buildings had not had any real defensive obstacles put in place to stop truck bombers... nothing could stop those who stalked outside the fence, however.
We were all marked as we volunteered to work at a job to help defend the Nation.
I learned, some days later, that a man I had worked with, Mr. Dong Lee, was on Flight 77. He was a contractor who worked on contract for the US government. That, too, is a volunteer position: no one forces you to do that.
He was not a personal friend, nor even a professional one, but a man who I had contact with working on a large scale research project for my Agency. It was clear, to me, that his work was vital as part of our Nation's defenses after reviewing the work and what it meant. I had met him in late JUL 01. We would never get to work on that project.
I would volunteer for a medical study at NIH to test a new medication outside of its intended audience to see if it would help others with my condition, that being Type I Diabetes.
I did that because I remembered that in WWII those who could not or would not fight could still contribute and put their bodies to service for the Nation and their fellow man.
When I first heard the 'chickenhawk' slur I was profoundly disgusted with those putting it out.
You could contribute when not able to fight and must do so to support your Nation and your fellow man.
I would become gravely ill due to that study, although not due to the medication being tested, as fate would have it. From that I would no longer be able to do my job which was in Advanced R&D for my Agency. To find new and better ways to find our enemies and protect our Nation. I would survive, but would never have the skills and pointed mental capability that I did when I entered the study.
Even Pacifists did that during WWII and gained great honor for doing so, and gained high esteem for their morals, ethics and commitment to the Nation. Our modern critics of war are not so valiant, not so public spirited and don't seem to give a damn about the Nation to risk their health and their lives against medications and diseases.
I cannot hate those individuals.
I can only pity them for the dark void in their beings where their soul should be.
There is a cold, dark place in my heart for those attackers of my Nation and my fellow citizens who come from afar with malice aforethought and a red gleam in their eye.
And for those who impugn the volunteers who work to keep us safe and alive, I have disgust and pity.
And for those who wish to forgive our attackers and blame our Nation for what came to our shores I have no respect at all.
For just a few hours I thought that the Bush Administration 'got it'.
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
I hoped that would stick with our elected officials.
You don't need mighty armies if you have a mighty people, but it is a happy benefit.
Armies and Navies are not a sovereign cure for the ill of those who return to a state of Nature to become enemies of all mankind.
We used to know what that sort of fighting was all about.
We are civilized to the point of decadence: at a high state of decay.
When you reach for the stars, you had better prepare for a damned nasty knife fight by those that can't stand to see others succeed.
For those that strive, failure is an option.
Minoans, Mycenae, Troy, Hittites, Assyrians, Sparta, Egypt, Persia, Rome... all strived, all succeeded and all failed.
America is born of failure because we are not perfect as a people, but we do have a perfect mission.
We have wars to fight so we can end them, and enemies hiding in many Nations and lawless regions across the globe.
Yet we are no longer fighting to win.
So that we can end the fighting and get back to relative peace.
To do that can require a decade and more once the fighting stops.
Now we have an entire section of people who are terrified of winning.
I will never forgive those who brought war to our shores on 9/11/01.
And I will never forget the loss of my fellow citizens and those who trusted us to protect them in our Nation against those barbaric foes.