#861 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I was sitting in my livingroom watching the Today show. The first tower had already been hit and was burning, this sort of serene lacey black smoke. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric making speculations in a seemingly unfazed manner, muttering it almost seemed, but almost instantaneously the mood changed. I had gotten my infant son latched on to my breast so he could nurse when the second plane appeared from the lower right-hand corner. I think I heard them screaming before they hit, and then silence. The impact of the plane hitting the tower seemed unreal, the shower of sparks, the black flame and then orange starbursts, it seemed like a really well-done action sequence from a film. I was in such an intimate, private moment with my baby in the livingroom of my home in Colorado and just had just witnessed the violent annihilation of hundreds of innocent lives. The incongruity of the scene could not escape my attention.

But I knew it wasn't a movie when I heard Matt Lauer groan on the television. That is a sound that for as long as I live will never forget. The guttural, grey, horrified sound of breath yanked out of person's body, without intent. Our body's manner of self-preservation, of comprehension of the incomprehensible. That sound of shared humanity and shared disbelief. I thought at first, oh the plane got lost in the smoke, how can that have happened two times in such a short period of time? Even then I knew it was improbable. But then either Couric or Lauer said, I think we can assume now that this was no accident.

My husband had just left for work. He saw the first plane's aftermath, but had left shortly before the second tower was hit. Like I did I am certain he did not comprehend the gravity of the situation. I called him incessantly on the phone, Dan there was another plane, Dan there was a plane that hit the Pentagon, Dan there was a plane...Dan the tower just collapsed...

Taking my daughter to pre-school that day, the sun was so brilliantly bright, and the mood was so bleak. Radio stations were all on newscasts and I will never forget, driving south on Lemay Ave. I passed a red sedan with a blonde woman behind the wheel, thick frizzy blonde hair. Her right hand was stuck tangled in her hair and her mouth was agape, her eyes wide. In the instant that I passed her on my way to school, she epitomized the way I was feeling but couldn't express. I don't know who she was but she is now a sister in this experience. She is a human who was rationally upset at such irrational events.

Calling Dan on the phone, his response of "Oh man", "Have they gotten the White House?"....he didn't have access to a television so he wasn't witnessing the horror as I was in living violent color. His responses were inappropriate, I felt. That evening, the sky was this gray color. We had huge grass fires in our county two summers back and the sky was this same sort of hazy grey. But there was no forest fire that day. Could it be that the fires and bloodshed and horror were to much for one state in our blessed union to handle, and God broke the bounds of weather and winds to create an atmosphere of servanthood. We must help carry the burden of these poor incapacitated cities. It was too much for Washington and Pennsylvania and NEw York to handle alone.

Dan, so excited to play softball that evening. Fuming, insisting he had to stay home and watch the news, to get a grip on what had been taking place in our nation that fateful day. "Honey, our nation is at war". Sitting on the couch yet again that evening with him at my feet, and finally his quiet response "Now I understand, I didn't know it before, but now I understand". Both of us teary-eyed at the sight of our leader telling us what we had already known and speaking words of encouragement, righteous anger and finally, hope.

God bless our nation.

Kim S. Olsen | 32 | Colorado

#856 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I was in my home-office working and my wife, who usually watches some news before getting out of bed around 7am (Colorado time) came up and told me a plane hit the World Trade Center. I blew it off as some beginner that got lost or lost control of a private plane, but still could not believe someone could not MISS the towers.

She turned on the news upstairs and commented that the tower was burning immensely - that was strange, and then she said it was an airliner - she had my attention. I went in the living room just in time to see the second plane hit - but I thought it was a replay of the first plane. When I noticed that one tower was on fire and what I just saw was a tower hit that was not on fire - and a huge explosion. I was in shock -- the second tower was also hit, and intentionally. I told my wife that the planes were hijacked and we were being attacked. The news started in with other events (some true, the Pentagon, others not true - more planes along the Potomac, etc.).

She asked how that many people could hijack two planes and get guns on them. I told her knives or shanks, nothing fancy, just kill the pilots and threaten the passengers. Having lived in the DC area, a Navy brat and with friends that were stationed in the Pentagon at times, I knew that any aircraft nearing DC would be shot down and was really terrified that this was only the beginning.

A cousin flys for US Air and lives in Pennsylvania, not far from another crash -- this one because the heroes on board chose to die rather than be killed and be weapons. We were all worried about him -- but he was safe in Florida, and he could see Air Force One leave for safety.

I was on the phone constantly with relatives - none of us could believe what we saw. It is a memory that is embedded within all of us forever.

How have I felt since? This is what a wrote a few days later...and much of it is still how I feel. I still cry for our heroes -- alive and killed, found and buried, rescuing and rescued.

Pain. Frustration. Shock. These are but a few words that describe how I feel. This attack on the people of our country and what we represent – and therefore the entire free world, is still beyond my comprehension. I am in my home, assuring my wife and daughters that we are safe – and I truly hope we are.

There are many things that have happened and will happen as a direct and indirect result of this attack. We will never know the cost of lives, to businesses or governments – personal and financial. Our financial backbone has been halted, but not destroyed and it will rise again Monday (09/17/2001). Our air travel has been halted and is rising again. Our postal and delivery services have been hindered, but still continues with the delays we will soon become used to again. Our citizens struggle with the death and loss of fellow citizens, co-workers, friends and family. The stories of survival, struggle and heroism are sad and incredible. We are a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Our strength is in our unity as a nation and world coming together. Some have referred to us as a “Sleeping Giant” – but read that carefully – we have been sleeping, but in many more important and different ways. Our citizens and representative government bicker over differences that are meaningless. Our military has been reduced to dangerous levels. Our freedoms have been under attack – but from the inside as well. During this time of rescuing victims, rebuilding the damage done and restoring our Republic, we must also do this within ourselves. There is more at stake than lives – our freedoms; and not just from outside attack. We must fight enemies to our Republic – both foreign and domestic.

For many years we have become secretly and gradually ashamed of our patriotism and any reflection of that. Today we now openly and proudly shout and display our patriotism. That must never fade away again, as our freedoms must not ever fade away – we must not succumb to surrendering our civil liberties and freedoms for any reason. Once lost, as with the lives of this attack, we will not have them again. We are uniting to support our President, not Mr. Bush – our President and Commander-In-Chief. Only a short time ago our population and leaders were divided in support and criticism. Our leaders must support us and we must support them.

Our Nation has been the “Melting Pot” and was founded by those not indigent to the land. Our Nation, as it is today, has existed for about half of the nearly 500 years since the first permanent settlements were founded. Many came to this country for a new life and new freedoms, and since our Declaration of Independence, we have been a free people and symbol of the world. We are the strongest – in spirit, financially and with force, than any other country. We must use that strength to preserve and persevere. We have freedoms and liberties that other countries do not, and do not want there people to realize. Terrorists that lead and conquer by fear and intimidation have attacked us. We must overcome and win by the strength and unity within ourselves.

Our “Pot” is “Melting” – from the inside. Let this be a time to realize our short-falls, to strengthen our resolve and unity. Our borders are open, and we are being asked to excuse those who have trespassed against us – but at what continued cost? Our infrastructure has become weakened, as was our unity. Let us restrengthen our infrastructure with the unity we shout of today. Our ancestors came to this country to find opportunity and leave oppression. They had laws to abide and procedures to follow – to protect them and the growing population, they have taught us to abide the laws we create and ask for. Why, then, do we allow lawbreakers to enter and stay, only to take away from us without returning our generosity? Do not get me wrong, we cannot be the country we are without the influences and refugees of other countries.

In the interim we are going to rebuild many things. Let us rebuild who we are and protect ourselves. We need to close the borders – allowing movement across the borders, but legal movement. This is for our protection and to rebuild where we have failed in our policies. We need to allow civilians, our citizens, to secure themselves and protect each other. We need to assure that benefits and liberties of all kinds are preserved and made available to those that yearn to be our fellow citizens, and not for those that skirt the procedures, yet drain the resources of our infrastructure.

The support offered from other nations, both citizens and leaders, has been overwhelming. These countries deserve our support and the support we have provided them. For once our country is being aided in our time of need – what goes around comes around. However, we must cease supporting those opposed to us and our way of life – our freedoms. As has been said – this was an attack on all freedom loving people and countries of the world, and this will be a war against those that do not embrace this position forced upon us. Our enemies are many, our allies are greater.

While we prepare to fight, and we will, by land, sea and air – we must fight within to preserve all that is America. We must not fight with our guns, fists or words – but our actions and beliefs. Those that are not citizens and are here illegally must be deported. Those that are opposed or do not support the country they live in must leave or be deported. If you are not eligible to vote and are not eager to adopt this country, please leave. With this we must cease sharing our education, military strategy and technology with those that are not beside us at all times, peace or war.

In our schools they try to change history, or not teach it all together. I now spend time with my daughters – one recently graduated from high school and the other a senior in high school – teaching them about our government, civics and other things. I talk to them and listen, but I am listening to how their teachers have told untruths as facts, scared them and even discouraged them. At only 34 years old, my generation is not experienced with war – a true war. The generation of my parents experienced a Cold War and several conflicts – none of which had the patriotic support deserved and seen today. The generation of my grandparents, quickly passing, fought alongside many countries to oppose the same enemy we are preparing for today – those that oppress their people and oppose our freedoms. The next generation is confused and scared, and I understand why. We must comfort them and prepare them, for everything changed on September 11, 2001, but that is only the beginning.

I have cried every day and night since this attack on innocent citizens and our country, oftentimes alone. I have cried in pain, confusion and frustration. I have saluted our President, as a former member of the military and military family. I have saluted the rescue workers, the fallen and our heroes. I have cried for all of them.

I have been angry every day and night. We have been willing to surrender our rights and freedoms – the same we want others to have – for our safety. We have reduced our military and succumbed to the desire to have less, but at a great cost. Let us come together and fight for our way of life – Let Freedom Ring!

Our Constitution is not just a document – it is the backbone of our way of life. I think it ironic that Barbara Olson, a Constitutional attorney whose opinions I respected, died in the plane that was used against the Pentagon, the symbol and backbone of the military that defends the Constitution. It is under attack, and has been. While we fight to regain the losses recently experienced, and prevent future losses – let us include our Constitution. Let us not give our freedom away – to anyone. We must, as I do, value each freedom and right we have – even if we disagree or do not exercise that right individually, as they are for us all as a whole.

I will die fighting for your right to say anything you want – whether I agree or disagree. I will die fighting for your right to practice your religion in a country of many religions – although I practice none. I will carry a firearm to protect you – even if you do not want to. I will vote for leaders – even if you do not. I will support our leaders, even if I voted differently then the outcome. I will do anything to preserve our – your – freedoms. We are all Americans – not hyphenated Americans. Being Republican or Democrat, Catholic or Jewish, White or Blue collar – it does not matter to me and should not matter to others.

This attack on America has brought forth many comparisons to past wars and events. There are many similarities – but not necessarily for the reasons supposed. This attack was another Pearl Harbor, only because we were attacked on our land. The enemy of today is much like the enemies of the past wars – they oppress people and find our freedoms to be dangerous, as their people would revolt. The enemy of today is but a small representation of an overall group – not all Japanese were evil, not all Germans were evil and not all Muslims are evil, but we cannot easily recognize friend from foe and must be restrained enough to not bring terror to our own brethren. This attack, upon New York City, has temporarily crippled our day-to-day lives. This simply because NYC is a vital element to our financial and national/international interests. Adolph Hitler, whom I would compare both Sadam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden with, targeted NYC and had prototypes of a stealth flying wing designed to bomb NYC, and was simply waiting on the full development of an atomic bomb. Our invasion and liberation of France was necessary to end this theater of the war, just as our use of the only two existing atomic weapons on Japan was necessary to end that theater of the war. Most importantly, WWII was the last era of patriotic unity for the United States of America, and that time has come again for the very same reasons. With that, we must expect to experience much of the same excitement, fear and change in lifestyle that our parents and grandparents did – and with that we will experience the same victory.

Finally, I want to somehow thank the countless heroes – firefighters, medical personnel, police officers, volunteers and donors. I also want to share my deepest sympathy for those that were victims. Even the victims that were heroes – those that valiantly fought to control a plane, and saved many lives; or those that helplessly called relatives for comfort.

We are an “Angry Giant”! Freedom must and will prevail, but not at any cost to those freedoms!

Dean A. Beers
Sunday, September 15, 2001

Dean A. Beers | 35 | Colorado

#855 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
On September 11, 2001 I was at work. I work at a telecommunications company that has customers world wide but our customer base is in the U.S. I was talking to some of the members of my team when they started telling me that one of the towers at the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. They asked me to go to the break room to see if anything was being shown on the TV as the Internet was bogged down and no one could get to any news sites. I walked down to the break room to find several other managers watching a news channel. My former boss, and friend, was standing there watching so I asked if she knew what was going on. She said she had just gotten there herself. As we talked and watched the second tower was hit. We just looked at each other. People on the TV started screaming and running. All I could do was walk away. I knew that if one person started crying I would be useless to my team. There was no doubt in my mind we were under attack. Further proven later by the Pentagon attack and the crash in Pennsylvania.
One of the women that works in my department asked if she could go call her brother who was due to work in one of the WTC buildings. I took her down to the break room to use a phone and that was when the first tower fell. So did she. She collapsed in a crying heap and I didn’t know if I could even begin to help her. We got her on the phone to no avail as all the circuits were already busy from the overload of calls into and out of New York. I left her there to try and call her brother or anyone back in New York.
I decided to go back to my team to see how they were doing. Our call volume had plummeted. It seemed all of America was watching the news. I noticed one of my employees seem more distraught then the rest, we all were by now, so I pulled him into a conference room to talk to him. By this time they had identified one of the United Air Lines planes as having come from Boston that morning. As we talked he informed me that his brother, a United Air Lines pilot, was supposed to fly out of Boston that morning and hadn’t been heard from yet. That was it. He started crying and I couldn’t keep it in any longer. Here was one of my employees crying because his brother could very well be one of the casualties. There is a certain kinship among your employees and times like this were when we came together as one team. I offered to send him home to be with his Father so they could continue to call. He declined as his work number was the only way his Father could contact him. I took him off line and had him call his home every fifteen minutes until something was heard. About an hour after the second tower fell our entire corporation closed and the buildings were emptied. I sent all of my people home with a number to call the next day to see if we were re-opening. I gave my employee my cell phone number to call me when he heard from his brother. I was praying non-stop that he and his family would get a call. They did. His brother was safe and still in Boston. That is one of the happiest calls I have ever received in my life.
When we closed the corporation some of us volunteered to stay and take calls. We support Government, military, and emergency services for their telecommunications systems and had gone to a National Defense/Emergency service only scenario. We changed our incoming message to state our current support stance. Our regular customers were being asked to call back the next day to see if we were operating as normal again. I stayed from 6a.m. to 10 p.m. but only took calls from about 11a.m. to 10 p.m. I should say I was waiting to take calls. None ever came. That was one of the most depressing nights of my life. We never heard from anyone because there was no one left. We moved forward the next day taking care of the complete customer base. People were a little kinder and a lot more sympathetic to each other but it will never be the same.
By the way, the woman who’s brother was to be at the WTC that morning had decided to go to his companies warehouse first that morning and is safe.
People have always seen me as very patriotic but now I think they understand where I was coming from.

Terry E. Browning | 30 | Colorado

#854 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I was en route to work in downtown Denver when I turned on the car radio to get a weather report. I heard Dan Rather talking about the World Trade Tower fire. I thought he was talking about the bombing several years ago. Then he said "the tower has collapsed" and he sounded so sad. Then I realized what he was talking about was actually happening. I started to cry. As I drove towards the city of Denver I kept staring at our tall towers wondering if we were next. It was eerie. Late that night at home after I finally turned off the tv, I lay in bed and heard nothing but silence outside. No wind, no people, no airplanes flying overhead. Just utter stillness. I knew the world had changed. And I knew thousands of people were out there waiting for someone they loved to come home, and that some of them never would.
Nancy | 41 | Colorado

#849 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I had just arrived at work, completely unaware of the tragedy unfolding until I was inside and people were in the conference room watching the news. We all sat in silence watching the first tower burning when the second was hit. My cousin works in downtown Manhattan. She arrives on the ferry from New Jersey, so I wasn't sure if she was okay or not until late that night. Fortunately she was late to work on September 11th.

My heart breaks with the rest of the world as we mourn the loss of our beloved citizens and the loss of our innocence. However, my spirit soars with the knowledge that we are strong and united as one country. We will NOT be defeated!

Peace to all.

Polly | 48 | Colorado

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