I will never forget the morning of September 11th, 2001. I awoke to my then girlfriend running in the room and telling me that I had to turn on the television. It was about 9 AM and just before the second plane had hit. I turned on the TV to scenes of horror, black smoke and utter confusion in the newsroom of every channel I flipped. Then it happened… As I was watching and flipped by Fox News, they were interviewing someone on the street and in the background I saw it. The second plane went crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed, and it even took the reporters and studio hosts to know it had happened. At the moment, I could just remember being confused. I had just woken up and didn’t quite have my senses about me yet, and here we are under what could only be considered an attack.

At the time, we did not know the name Al Qaeda as global subject, Osama Bin Laden was not on the tip of our tongues. We weren’t in war in Afghanistan and later Iraq over this day’s events and we were living in our comfortable little self contained bubbles. Our biggest concern was the technology stock bubble bursting and how we could spend our money next. The United States as a whole was very much protected. All the wars and battles you saw on the news were always over seas somewhere. Never on US soil. Why should we worry? That morning… it changed everything. Being that the attack was in New York City and almost 500 miles from where I was living at the time in Raleigh, NC, the attack didn’t seem threatening but more like I was watching something on TV or a movie. However, it was real and a short while later it would hit home. Literally. At 9:37 AM Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Washington, DC and well more specifically Arlington, VA was now under attack also. Being a native of the Washington DC area and this being before I returned home at the end of 2002, concern finally set in. Running through my mind instantly was did I know anyone working at the Pentagon that day? Were my family and friends safe?

Meanwhile, my girlfriend at the time who was also from the DC area (Maryland) and had family and friends working in the Trade Center in NY was in full panic mode. The phones… dead. Both in DC and New York, you could not get through. All we had was the news and neighbors. It wasn’t until after 10 AM that I briefly got through to my mother in Northern Virginia to access what was going on, she didn’t know either and was more concerned because her husband was attending a call as an auto-locksmith on the parking deck of the Pentagon at the time of the crash. My girlfriend had briefly gotten in touch with her father that confirmed her brother in New York was safe and had not made it in to work before the planes had hit thankfully.

Later that morning we would hear about Shanksville and the downed plane there and at the time we didn’t know if that was just coincidence or just a failed attempt at Washington, DC. Speculation would take over as news for the hours and even days to follow the tragic events that morning. Sadly, my tale is not one of relief. I did know, not closely but I did know 3 people that passed away that day. My thoughts and prayers are still with them and their family and friends. My heart still breaks even all these years later whenever I see the morning footage replayed every anniversary. The worse part of the morning is I suppose just not knowing.

Now, in 2014 we are still feeling the effects of a day 13 years ago. In a large way, the terrorists won. Our way of life has forever been changed. In Airports, you can no longer walk your loved one up to a gate and you can’t even get to a gate to watch a plane come or go without a boarding pass and full security check. Every venue, big or small has security check points. You have to empty your bags and can’t bring in liquid containers in many venues around the country. In a way, we are now prisoners in our own way of life thanks to an event 13 years ago. Our freedoms and rights have been ripped from us. All in the name of security. There is no turning back, it will only get worse as the years progress. In the name of our safety and for our own protection. Right…

I’m not going to touch the many conspiracy theories over the times. My step-father witnessed the plane hitting the Pentagon. It happened. Who’s behind the attacks? Bin Laden or our own government? Doesn’t matter, people died and not for a cause they were fighting for. Lives were lost, thousands of them on that day and thousands more since over that day’s events. No, today we remember and reflect. Today we give those that lost their lives that respect. As a country, as a world, we continue to fight for our freedom, our rights and our respect. America is not innocent or guilty. We are a target and the aggressor in many situations. Both good and bad. Not to be political about it but there is no longer a right and wrong in 2014. We live in a society that is both overly politically correct and scared, at the same time we kill millions around the globe every year in wars, poverty and power struggles. No, we have not won any war. We suffer the affects of 9/11 just as much today as the aftermath of any other war in this country’s history. From the Revolutionary to Vietnam and both World Wars in the middle.

This is not an edited post. I just wrote what I felt this morning and wanted to share my memories and prayers with those that aren’t with us today because of the events on September 11th, 2001. God bless.

Originally published on DCXIV