Like many of you I was getting ready to go to work that morning, watching “The Today Show” and having a bowl of cereal.
When the first airplane hit the World Trade Center, it seemed like a tragic accident had just occurred, but minutes later, when the second airliner crashed into the opposite tower you just knew it was something altogether more serious.
Having just been retired from the Air Force and having served the previous five years with a DoD-component of the National Security Agency, my mind all at once flipped over to thoughts of Osama bin Laden, who had made it known he was looking to take down America.
Some might call it a lucky guess but I was as certain as I could be that bin Laden had just signed his death warrant. As a matter of fact, moments later when my phone rang and it was my good friend Bob Gary calling from the newsroom at the Times Free Press, I told him as such.
It was a day like none other, as we roamed the streets and our offices and homes for days trying to make sense of it all.
Only one other time had I experienced that sort of pall over a nation. I was in London on vacation the weekend that Princess Diana perished in that terrible accident. When I arrived at St. James Palace, there were only two or three arrangements of flowers on the fence. Later there would be literally millions.
People were walking around dumbfounded with a stare on the faces that wasn't difficult to decipher. Everywhere, Britains wanted to talk about the tragedy. It didn't matter if one was British, American or Zulu. They just wanted to commiserate.
Emblazoned on my mind is that September 11th in question. As much as it hurt, as much as it befuddled us, all we wanted to do was rehash it — to try and come to grips with the senselessness of it all.
Our faces were all awash with disbelief and our words were confused.
We were a nation knocked back off our feet — especially after the airliner went down at the Pentagon and the other in that field in Pennsylvania. We were growing angrier by the moment, still looking for the answers to our many, many questions.
I can still see the grim-faced countenance of our president as he addressed the country. I was proud of President Bush at that moment. He was hurting just like the rest of us, yet he was prepared to launch our nation's defense against these senseless attacks. Together, he and Mayor Rudy Giuliani stood strong amidst the increasing carnage of one of our toughest cities.
New York showed what it was made of and the rest of our country cried along with her.
At the Pentagon, our military leaders showed a huge resolve to carry on in the middle of the death and destruction wrought at the hands of cowards. And in the skies above Pennsylvania a group of patriots were determined that that airplane would bring no further delight to the perpetrators who were engineering these catastrophes.
“Let's roll” became the battle cry — our battle cry — on every front as we sought to fight back.
Even today we still shake our heads in disbelief that our America could be attacked in such a fashion. Bin Laden paid the ultimate price for his audacity but there are more like him, out there waiting for their moment to inflict pain and suffering on us as a nation and as individuals.
We must remain vigilant — always prepared and on watch for those who would harm us. Today, 10 years later, we seem to have forgotten this. We gripe and complain about the steps our country has taken to protect us.
We seethe when we must wait in airports or suffer a bit of inconvenience to board our flights. Subsequent events have shown that we are as safe as we'd like to think we are.
At times we do not seem as thankful for our military who are still out there on the front lines protecting us from those who mean us harm and destruction. We must always support our military men and women as they are our first line of defense.
Yet we always seem to find time to argue about how we should celebrate our heroes — especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Do we pray or not pray? Why not a compromise for both. Some of us find solace in being able to openly pray to our Jesus, just as many of those who died did. While others may not believe as we do and don't pray to the same entity, let them observe their own moment of silence. Or better yet, follow-up a spoken prayer with a moment of silence for those who believe that way.
I see no problem with the simultaneous display of a cross and Star of David.
I wouldn't dare try and tell someone how not to worship. I do believe in religious freedom and just because you don't believe as I do doesn't mean I am standing in your way to worship as you please.
By the same token, my view as a Christian requires me to be vocal in my beliefs. My God tells me to let others know about Him — through either spoken prayer or witnessing. It has been that way for thousands of years and I don't expect it to change any time soon.
If you are not interested in worshipping my way, fine. Just please don't impede my way of worshipping because you don't agree with me. As far as I am concerned you are free to worship or not worship as you see fit.
My question is, just why is it always necessary for my Christianity to play a back seat role to Judaism, atheism or any other “-ism” that might be out there?
My whole understanding is that we were created as a nation with a freedom of religion, not as a land that is free of religion.
So, as we remember this 10th anniversary of 9/11, let us learn to rely on one another, love our country and be tolerant of one another's beliefs and ways of worship.
As usual, God bless...
Dennis Norwood is a reporter for The Catoosa County News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 706-935.2621.