Eight years ago on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, my wife (we weren’t married then) and I were in Virginia Beach on vacation. We had gone to Virginia the previous Friday to go to the NASCAR race in Richmond, then spend a few extra days relaxing on the beach. On Sept. 10 we were sitting on the beach, and off in the distance we saw an aircraft carrier heading out to sea (I have no idea which carrier it was). I didn’t think anything of it other than the awe I felt in seeing such a magnificent ship on the ocean.

The next morning, 9/11, we awoke and turned on the TV in the hotel.

After awhile, there were news alerts about a fire going on at the World Trade Center. Initially, there was a report of either a small plane or a helicopter hitting one of the towers, the North Tower. I flipped to one of the cable channels (I think CNN, although we flipped between that, Fox News, and MSNBC). The fire sure looked like it was due to a crash by a larger aircraft, but nobody really knew at the time. Not long after the first impact came the strike against the South Tower. At that point, we, like everyone else, knew the U.S. was under attack. As we continued watching, the news came that another airliner had attacked the Pentagon, then there were reports of a fourth plane, United Flight 93, that crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania (I don’t remember if the news reports of the time mentioned specifically where the crash occurred). While the news was covering all of the events, most of their coverage was on the World Trade Center, with 50,000 people potentially in danger, including all the rescue workers who went there to help (nobody knew exactly how many people were in the towers at the time, but it was mentioned that around 50,000 people did work there). We were still watching as we witnessed, in horror, first the South Tower, and then the North Tower, collapse, knowing there were still people in those buildings as they were coming down. I can’t even come close to imagining what it was like to be there with such huge buildings crashing on top of those still remaining inside, nor of those who preferred to leap to their deaths instead of waiting to be burned alive by the fire raging out of control prior to the collapse.

Later that day, President Bush came on at about 8:30pm ET and gave an address that showed him not only as President, but as an American hurt by the evil created by the terrorists who murdered our countrymen and women, our family. Please read it, for America desperately needs a reminder of what happened that day. President Bush had it right that this wasn’t simply a heinous case of mass murder, but an illegal act of war perpetrated by evil people, a war we are still in today.

At some point on 9/11, the government had grounded all flights. We were originally scheduled to leave on 9/11, then had changed our reservation to leave on Wednesday, the next day. After figuring out how to get back home to Illinois by rental car, we ended up leaving on Thursday, spent the night in West Virginia, then returned home Friday. There was an eeriness throughout the drive as there weren’t any of the usual smoke trails in the sky; the only planes I remember seeing were a couple of fighters (F-15s or F-16s) flying north at high speed on 9/11. When I dropped the rental car off, I saw other rental cars returned with out-of-state license plates and I was struck with the notion of how many others had to return home in the same manner. The people of this country were all in this together.

Even today, I can still remember the images of that morning and the events of that week, and it continues to fire up a rage in me towards those beasts who would do this not only to the innocents, but to America and the American people. As far as I’m concerned, those behind the attacks were already guilty of these horrendous crimes; I never want Osama bin Laden and his verminous ilk ever brought to this country where they can exploit our laws in some kind of trial, but killed wherever they are.

I’d like to offer this prayer:

Dear Lord,

With your grace, please continue to embrace in your bosom the innocents who were murdered;
Please provide the family members of the murdered innocents comfort as they struggle without their loved ones;
Please provide the people of this country the comfort when remembering the tragic events of that day;
Please keep those who defend this country and all it stands for safe and resolute so that they can return home to their families;
Please keep in your grace those brave warriors who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this country and its people;
Please provide the comfort needed to the families of these fallen heroes;
We thank you Lord that the freedoms, especially the freedom to worship you, have came from you;
Lord, we beseech that you continue to bless this great nation, and all the people of the nation, a nation that cannot stand without your grace and blessing;
In your name,

God Bless America!!!