On September 11, 2001 I was employed by Concurrent Technologies Corporation in Johnstown, PA. That morning we all heard that the twin towers had been struck by an airplane. It was sad, but it wasn’t the first time a plane had collided with a building, and we got on with our morning.
A short while later we heard that a second plane had crashed into the other tower. Now something fishy was up, but we didn’t know what yet. Televsions were rounded up and we started waiting for more news.
I went to a doctor’s appointment elsewhere in Johnstown. When I arrived back my supervisor, Allan Hobernay, met me in the parking lot and told me not to bother going back inside. The plane crashes were terrorist attacks, and another plane was believed somewhere over Somerset or Cambria county. Everyone was going home, and the town was being shut down.
I raced home barely ahead of where they were shutting down 219. In fact to get onto 219 and get home I had to take some back roads past the airport. I’m told that the airport roads were closed down a few minutes after I went through.
A lot of stories and rumors circulate about what happened that day. One thing I know for certain is that we are blessed to live in a country where events like this are noteworthy for their rarity.
I think there are a number of reasons for this. An impressively strong military, with soldiers dedicated to protecting our freedom, our way of life, at any cost is one of the most important reasons. The individuals who, day in and day out, put themselves between us and our enemies deserve more recognition than just the occasional day of memorial.
Likewise the police who remain ever vigilant, routing terrorists before they can even launch their plans deserve greater recognition. The fire fighters, rescue workers, and emergency personnel who put their day to day lives on the second tier of importance so that they can stand ready to intervene in both small and large emergencies deserve greater recognition. Their ability to mitigate damage and save lives makes the efforts of our enemies so much more futile, and brings comfort to so many.
I believe that the the average American, with our strong faith in God, and our willingness to fight back, keeps each of us safer. We Americans do not make soft targets. Charlie Daniel wrote in “In America” the words:
“And we might have done a little bit of fightin’ amongst ourselves,
But you outside people best leave us alone
Cause we’ll all stick together and you can take that to the bank,
That’s the Cowboys, and the Hippies, and Rebels, and the Yanks,
You just lay your hands on a Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan,
And I think you’re gonna finally understand.”
Looking back across those 10 years, we may still have some problems in this country, but we also have each other, and that’s a lot to be thankful for.