I was in my office on that day, listening to the radio when I heard an announcement that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was in shock. Little did I know that it wasn’t over. A few moments later, the radio host announced that a second airplane had crashed into the other tower. I said, “We’re under attack.” Fellow employees gathered around the radio, listening in shocked silence.
Later we would learn that an airplane had also been flown into the Pentagon and another, thought to be bound for the Capitol, had crashed in Pennsylvania.
The towers fell.
My office sits on the runway of the Tulsa International Airport. I looked out my window to witness plane after plane land. All aircraft were ordered to land and no planes were allowed to take off. The possibility of more hijacked aircraft was real.
Our airport is typically quite noisy that time of morning. Planes landing and taking off was the norm. Typically drowned out by jet engines, I could now hear birds chirping. It was eerily quiet.
The only planes using the airport that day were fighter jets scrambling to destinations unknown, to protect our country.
The very core of our country was attacked. The financial center, our military, our government. The targets were symbols of our democracy.
Since that day, our way of life has changed. Some of the changes were long over due, others are questionable. All made for the sake of Homeland Security.
Our lives will never be the same.
We can not forget the words of Benjamin Franklin:
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.”
Since 9/11, there’s been many changes to our Liberty. Liberty guaranteed by our constitution. The Government has given itself over-reaching powers to spy on its citizens, detain individuals without cause and torture wartime prisoners. The very rights our forefathers fought and died to protect were being systematically eroded.
Have the terrorists achieved what they set out to do? Have they instilled fear in our very fabric? Have they succeeded in destroying our economy? Have they altered how we define democracy?
Personally I have mixed emotions on what has resulted from that day. I think we needed to make changes to ensure our security, but I also think in some cases we’ve went too far.
I am hopeful that we will regain our Liberty. I am hopeful that we’ll find a balance between actions we must take for security and our rights afforded us by the Constitution. I am hopeful that we can, once again, learn to trust our neighbor. And, I am hopeful that all of the men and women who fought for our freedoms did not do so in vain.
It is a somber day as we remember all of those who gave their lives on 9/11/2001. It’s also a day to reflect on centuries-old declarations to our democracy and our unwavering resolve to protect it.