There are some occasions that are so seared into the national consciousness that everyone remembers exactly where they were when the event took place. Talking to my folks, they can remember exactly where they were when Kennedy was killed. Myself, there are two days that I will never forget.
The first was when Challenger exploded. I was home sick from school that day and watched in horror the events of that terrible day, right before my 14th birthday.
The other, was September 11, 2001.
I was stationed in Korea at the time, a little burg down the west coast from Seoul called Kunsan.
I'd managed to talk my way into a day off that day, mainly so I could watch the live broadcast on AFTV of the first regular season game in the new Mile High Stadium. (Yeah, I'm a Broncos fan, get over it.) And what a game that was. At least right up until Eddie McAffrey broke his leg, but I digress.
Anyway, I went to the hooch that night to watch the re-broadcast in prime time. As the game was getting over, and several libations, I decided it was time to go home.
My room was quite literally across the street from the hooch and it didn't take me 5 minutes to get there. And in those 5 minutes, the world came apart at the seams.
When I left to go to the hooch, I happened to leave my TV on, so when I got home, I was met with video of the first plane hitting the South Tower. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I remember thinking that maybe it was all an accident.
Then the second one hit the North Tower. Talk about instant sobriety.
And reports started coming in about other hijacked jets. By this time I was on the phone to my flight commander asking if we needed to get our stuff up and running.
Then the Pentagon was hit, and that sealed it. Work was only a block away and I was dressed and out the door.
We stood up our operation, got everything ready in the event things got sideways on the Pen. Fortunately, nothing happened. I ended up working the rest of the night, getting off work at 0900 the next morning. When I got home that morning, I was so amped up, it took another 3 hours to finally get to sleep, and even that was fitful. Those 12 hour shifts lasted another couple of days, and we weren't allowed to go downtown for another 3 months. The remaining 9 months of my tour over there went without incident and I returned Stateside in June of '02 and right into Iraqi Freedom 7 months later.
I remember the month before the attack, we'd been briefed that there was a threat of terrorist attack, nothing specific, just a general warning to all installations to be on guard. After Khobar Towers, we didn't know what to expect. After watching wall-to-wall coverage of the events of that fateful day, I don't think anyone could have even dreamed that the targets were the epicenters of power in the US.
Commissions have been chartered, investigation made, rumors and conspiracies have come and gone since that fateful sunny morning those not-so-long 8 years ago. But one thing has remained crystal clear through all the BS:
I WILL NEVER FORGET!
WE WILL NEVER FORGET!