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Welcome to A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog dedicated to the observations and opinions of this writer. Most of the time the subject will be local politics and politicians - those issues and/or people affecting the lives of those of us in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. Occasionally, I might write about something obscure that interests me. Or, I may just launch off into some philosophical rant if the urge moves me. I might even include comments by others from time to time.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

9/11/01 Remembered
The strident anti-war voices that screamed at us from news reports for weeks have been muted by the tragedy along the gulf coast. When those voices were at their peak, it was easy to get swept up in their fervor and forget what started this whole thing in the first place. I don't for one second discount the loss the families of fallen service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq have experienced. My heart goes out to them as they try to deal with the grief they feel and the sacrifice their loved ones - those brave volunteers - have made on our behalf.

The images of the events of September 11, 2001 are still clear as a bell in my memory. I remember my reaction when a friend called to tell me to turn on the television after the first plane crashed through the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I thought, "What a terrible accident!", and worried about the people trapped above the fire.

Later, I watched with millions of other Americans as the second plane hit the South Tower and realized there was nothing accidental about it and got angry - very angry. As that tragic day unfolded and we saw the Pentagon attacked by Flight 77 and became aware that those brave American heroes on Flight 93 saved the Capitol Building from a similar fate, I felt frustrated, angry - and vulnerable.

I watched in disbelief as live news coverage showed desperate people in the towers throwing themselves out of windows to certain death below as they tried to escape the flames.

I gasped as first the South Tower, then the North, imploded, sending plumes of ash and debris thousands of feet in the air. I shuddered as I realized that debris was not just steel, concrete, equipment, insulation and furnishings - it included more than 2,000 people, the bodies of whom were vaporized as the buildings disintegrated.

In the days that followed I learned of a close friend who just missed being caught in the World Trade Center catastrophe. His office was 100 yards from the South Tower, where he disembarked from his commuter train that morning. As he and his co-workers stood at their windows, watching the fire in the North Tower, the second plane hit. The impact and explosion knocked him off his feet. He wisely evacuated the area and somehow managed to catch a subway train heading north, up Manhattan Island. Five hours later he finally reached his home in New Jersey.

A week later I learned that another friend had an even closer call. He is a customer service representative for a computer systems company. His territory was the World Trade Center. He was in the South Tower, below the point of impact, when the plane hit that morning. He was able to escape and make his way to the waterfront, where a tugboat took him and several hundred other refugees to Brooklyn. He watched from the boat as the towers collapsed and he realized that he had lost literally hundreds of friends and associates that morning.

That same week I spoke with another old friend and mentor who had recently retired from a major insurance brokerage headquartered in the Trade Center. On September 11, 2001 he lost more than one hundred close friends and co-workers when their lives were snuffed out just as you would extinguish a candle - puff, and they were gone without a trace - no remains to mourn over and bury, no good-byes... only dust.

And, of course, there were the stories of the hundreds of heroic rescue workers who charged into the burning buildings, walked up dozens of floors to assist those remaining and to fight the fires, only to be trapped as the towers collapsed around them. It is not possible to recall those scenes of selfless sacrifice made by those brave men and women without a lump forming in my throat.

I was disgusted when I recently read of anti-war demonstrations at memorial services for fallen American soldiers. I can't imagine what that bunch of misguided, insensitive lunatics think they are accomplishing by showing such disrespect to the soldier and his family at that most sad and emotional time. Such acts only provide encouragement to those who are trying to destroy this country. Shame on those demonstrators and those among us who also feel such actions are acceptable.

As we approach yet another anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope you all will find a way to honor the young men and women who continue to serve our country as members of the armed forces in remote, dangerous places around the world. These brave volunteers were not dragged from their comfortable lives by the draft as so many of us were during the Vietnam conflict. They have chosen to serve their country - and us - by voluntarily taking up arms on our behalf. Whether we agree with the current course of action or not, the men and women who serve this country in the armed services at home and abroad deserve our unwavering support.

Regardless how the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq turn out, I will never forget September 11, 2001. Whether we successfully wage this "war on terror" to a satisfactory conclusion or not, those images are burned in my memory forever. Nor will I forgive those cowards who planned and carried out the attacks. I will not forget the men and women who died such horrible deaths on that day, and the thousands of families shattered by the attacks. We, as a nation, owe them that much.

9/11/01 - Never Forgive, Never Forget.
7:35 am pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West