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9/11 anniversary: A time for reflection, inspiration

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Joe Coble
  • 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron maintenance superintendent
As the members of the 90th Missile Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it's important that we pause to reflect on the tragedy while we also take inspiration from some of the heroes and events that have followed. As I look back, it amazes me how many images are still so vivid after all this time.

There probably isn't a person serving today that doesn't recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when the first plane crashed into the towers. I was on leave at my mom's house in Oklahoma when she got a call from my aunt to "turn on the news right now!" The rest of the day I was transfixed to the television, watching with the same sick feeling I had five years earlier during the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing. The longer the day went, the worse the news got. The gamut of emotions that day ranged from shock, confusion, rage, helplessness, and sympathy for the families who lost loved ones. As I returned from leave a few days later, I distinctly recall the surreal silence in the airport terminal, the unspoken tension between passengers and the realization that not only air travel, but the way we viewed the world would never be the same. September 11, 2001 was clearly one of the worst days in American history. But looking back, we can also draw inspiration from many events that took place in the aftermath.

I was inspired on September 12, 2001 when I had to wait seven hours to donate blood due to the amount of people in line rallying to help in any way they could. Inspired by the firefighters, police, military and rescue workers running toward danger to assist the efforts at ground zero. Inspired by the attitude and fighting spirit of Todd Beamer on Flight 93, and his now famous last words "Let's Roll!" Inspired by Pat Tillman spurning millions of dollars and his NFL dream to enlist, a decision that led to the ultimate sacrifice. Inspired by the thousands of volunteers flooding recruiting stations to serve their country. Inspired by more than 50,000 fans at Yankee Stadium chanting "U.S.A!" as President Bush, dressed in a "FDNY" sweatshirt, gave a thumbs up then threw a perfect opening pitch at the World Series, a symbol to the millions watching that we are America, we aren't afraid, and we will recover.

As we approach 9/11, I hope we all take time to reflect, not to re-hash bad memories, but to remember the innocent victims and their families and to be ever mindful that there's a bad element in this world that will stop at nothing to make Americans suffer. At the same time, I hope we take time to recognize the heroes and the sacrifices made to help the country recover from one of its darkest episodes. Their courage, honor, selflessness and devotion to duty should be an inspiration to us all.