That September day

My friend, James Hooker, is never at a loss for emotion on 9/11. Enjoy his thoughts.

Things are seared in my memory about that day like no other event in my lifetime. I was driving to work after a business breakfast. I happened to notice the sky was filled with planes seemingly in a holding pattern on approach to the commercial airport. I was stunned at the numbers of planes and thought I had missed a major event in the works. Unusual for someone in the news business to miss something. I was listening to a tape and not the radio, so I was unaware of any breaking news.

I get to my office to find everyone gathered around the television sets. Only then did I learn what had happened. I remember hearing someone say that there was a plane heading to either the Naval Academy or Camp David and I felt as if someone had knocked all the air out of my lungs. One of my children was a Midshipman at the Naval Academy. For the next hour, I experienced a small measure of what the victims’ families felt, the hell of not knowing. It could have been much different for me as we later learned that the Naval Academy was one of their top ten targets.

For a very long time afterward, and even now, I worried about my family in the military. It has forever changed how we look at the world. Our sense of peace and safety is undeniably violated.

Many of my friends and business associates experienced the same shattering of peace. One of my major healthcare clients was attending an investor conference in New York at the World Trade Center. They were staying in the Marriott at WTC, and were scheduled to begin the conference at 9:00 EDT. They had gone in a group for breakfast a few blocks away, and were returning to WTC when all hell broke loose. Talk about change. They lost all of their belongings in the destruction, but thankfully not their lives.

For the better part of the morning, they wandered around in the chaos. Finally, they found a minibus driver and persuaded him, for a significant sum, to drive them the nearly one thousand miles back to their company headquarters. They’ve never been the same.

The paradigm of what is possible is changed. We can’t underestimate what any enemy will do.