Certain events in history leave an indelible mark on your memory. These events often lead to the question, “Where were you when…”.                                                           “Where were you when the stock market crashed, starting the Great Depression?”      “Where were you when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor?”                                            “Where were you when JFK was shot?”                                                                                     “Where were you when the World Trade Center was attacked?”

I can answer the last two. The first two predated me, contrary to what some think.

September 11, 2001. I was in Wilmington, NC. It was a beautiful day; not a cloud in the sky. I was Human Resources Manager for a staffing company that specialized in placing construction journeymen and craftsmen on job sites with which we had contracts. Business was fairly good. I usually came into the office around 8AM to get an idea of what needed staffing, who showed up for work at the job sites and who didn’t and any new job sites that needed staffing.

Just before 9AM, our receptionist, a good friend and fellow veteran, called me to say her husband called to tell her a plane had just struck one of the Twin Towers. A bit surprised, I continued my work. It didn’t take more than a minute or two before I heard the TV in the break room come on. It was right next to my office. So, I went to check it out.

I can’t remember if I saw the second plane hit the Towers, or if I remember it from the endless replays of the crash. Soon afterward, I started getting phone calls from craftsmen we had placed. At the start of the day,  we had contracts to staff five or six jobs on military bases. Shortly after the second plane crashed into the Tower, that came to an abrupt halt. Realizing this was most likely a coordinated terrorist attack, all military bases went on alert, no one to be on base unless they were supposed to be there, all leave cancelled. All non-military personnel were being escorted off base.

I went about my job. When I had a chance, I was watching what was happening on TV. I remember watching the towers fall; I remember the sinking feeling as they did. I remember some of the phone calls I fielded. Several of the craftsmen said that if there was a way to get to ground zero to help, they’d go for free. I remember a friend that called; he worked for another company as HR manager and wanted to inquire about re-enlisting in the Army. He was young and had just gotten out of a mechanized infantry unit a year or two before. I had a flash of a thought as to whether the US Marines would let a 50 year old re-up. I remember how quiet it was outside with no aircraft in the skies above.

What I remember most was the unity. On that day, we were all Americans. Even Republicans and Democrats were united. Well, that was short-lived. We are in jeopardy of forgetting what happened that day. Various media and social platforms scrub it from newsfeeds. We even have a Congresswoman who publicly refers to it as “Some people did something.” Well, the “some people” were 19 Jihadi terrorists and the “some thing” resulted in the deaths of nearly 3000 people, more if you add in the deaths from illnesses from working at Ground Zero.We can never forget 911!