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Commentary: Memories of 9-11 attacks remain vivid

The images emerging from the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Center remain as unbelievable now as they did on the television screen that fateful day.  It seemed the entire country enjoyed that bright, blue September morning, the same in Manhatten as it was in Bismarck, N.D. where I was when the planes hit.  I was shingling my parents’ house early that morning. It was a beautiful day to work in the sun, a beautiful day to be alive. At 8:45 a.m. on that clear Tuesday morning, a n American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Hijacked by terrorists. 

 I had just come down from the roof and was standing in the kitchen talking to my mother. Her small television was on, I stood there drinking lime Kool-Aid out of the same little plastic cup I had done so often as a child.  We caught just a glimpse of the first plane flying into the north tower. It was a horrible accident, I thought at the time. Then, 18 minutes after the first explosion a second plane hit the south tower.  Once again, like many times before in American history, our world changed. The terror attack is a defining moment in my generation’s history. Most of us know exactly where we were the morning of the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, and 60 police officers.  The attack wasn’t over as the news kept coming that day, next with a second hijacked plane crash in a Pennsylvania field, and a third plane flying into the Pentagon.  

I recall vividly the details of that morning - shingling in the sun, green Kool-Aid, that blue plastic cup with all its scuffs, scratches and stains from decades of use. I’m certain the only place I’ve ever drank lime Kool-Aid is in my mother’s kitchen. She still has that set of cups, now with my own children drinking out of them during visits.  It’s a strange memory and small details connected to a world changing event.  Most people the generation before mine are likely to recall exactly what they were doing the day President Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas. The generation before them defined in large part by the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, launching the United States into World War II.  

We’ll see the images of 9-11 played again and again this weekend as we revisit these terroristic attacks.  A defining moment in our history that led us to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 14 years later still fighting the Global War on Terror.