When my wife and I turned on our TV set that morning, the first plane had just struck the World Trade Center. A few minutes later we saw the second plane strike. In that instant what had seemed like a horrible accident became an obvious act of terror.
Then, in the awful silence that had fallen over Arlington, Virginia, we could hear a “whump” as the third plane hit the Pentagon.
Our thoughts for the next several hours were with our daughter, whom we knew was at work in Building Three of the World Financial Center, only a few hundred feet from the World Trade Center’s North Tower. Had her office struck by debris? Had she fled her building only to be struck by or trapped in debris? Had she smothered in the huge cloud of dust that enveloped lower Manhattan as the Twin Towers collapsed? Because the attacks and their aftermath disrupted telephone communications, we didn’t learn for several hours that she had made it home safely.
Our good fortune was not shared by tens of thousands of other persons: the grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, lovers, and good friends of the 3,000 who died that day in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and western Pennsylvania.
Never forgive, never forget, never relent.