I remember that morning very well. Living on the West Coast, things were well along by the time I woke up, and I woke up to one of the kids proclaiming loudly in the hallway that one of the towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed! I recall dragging myself groggily out of sleep, not entirely sure if I was dreaming — I knew about the WTC, having at one time flown between the two towers in MS Flight Simulator, ironically enough — but suddenly I realized that this had to be real. I rushed some semblance of clothing onto my frame and hurried downstairs to see what was up.
The television now showed one smoking tower where once there had been two, and I hardly knew what to think. They still hadn’t come out with certain news about who might be responsible for this, but it was clear then that two airliners had been deliberately flown into the buildings. I don’t remember if the other two aircraft (the one aimed at the Pentagon and the other presumably aimed at the White House) had been mentioned yet, or not. But I remember clearly that while I was watching the second tower burning and smoking away, it suddenly collapsed itself, the structure falling onto itself until it, too, no longer stood. What a feeling it was!
The household was a little bit in an uproar. We still had four children at home, all legal adults, and one of them, David, was at that time or perhaps later in the day, proclaiming that he was going right down to the recruiting station and sign up for the Marines. While I didn’t have any objection to this, in principle, I realized that this was an emotional reaction and felt he should think it over a bit more before committing himself. Also, there was one impediment to his joining the Marines that I was aware of, and that was him being home-schooled and still without a GED. When I mentioned to him that the Marines wouldn’t take him without a GED, he was dismayed. But it did slow him down long enough to think it through. Ultimately he didn’t join the Corps.
And after all this time has gone on, it is quite amazing to me that so many people in this country don’t realize that we are still at war, and will continue to be at war for a long time to come. And that there’s nothing that can be done about it. The problem is, we are not at war with a nation state that we can invade and conquer — although we did take al-Qaeda’s host-state, Afghanistan. It is as if the Nazis had continued their war through guerilla means (which was in fact a fear of the Allies at the end of WW2). They could have done so for years, but they didn’t, thank goodness.
But here we are, and here we will stay, at least until we run out of al-Qaeda and related bad guys. This may never happen.