Tuesday came and went like many other days in Northwest Iowa, it was windy, the sun was shining and it got warmish, a typical day for early September.
But those who remember things, moments in time that became moments of history, also remembered a Tuesday morning in September, 11 years ago. The weather was much the same, a sunny day, very comfortable temperatures.
Shortly before 9 a.m. in New York City, that sunny September morning became Black Tuesday. The sunny skies outside Washington D.C. also turned dark soon after, and in a field outside a small community in Pennsylvania, darkness in the form of smoke soon filled the air as well.
The unthinkable - four commercial airliners - turned into weapons of destruction against the United States - airliners filled with ordinary people - men, women, children, just like you and me, used by people with a different vision of right and wrong - destroying the twin towers of the World Trade Center, damaging and killing people at the Pentagon, and then became a tribute to people fighting back against those who tried to take control, the first battle in what would be called the War against Terrorism.
A year ago, the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I spent the entire night watching re-broadcasts of the news accounts of that day in our nation's history. The video of the second jetliner slamming into the second tower of the World Trade Center, and then the horrifying video of the collapse of the first tower, and then the second. The massive cloud of dust and debris that simply overwhelmed lower Manhattan after the towers fell.
I remember the disbelief in the voices of the commentators, grasping for the words as their minds struggled like ours, to comprehend the sheer enormity of what our eyes were seeing. It was sobering on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. On Monday night, a documentary about some of the last people to escape the second tower before it collapsed aired on TV, and I found myself remembering things about that day, and my own thoughts of the attack, and what it meant.
In the days after Sept. 11, the nation and the world learned how devastating the attacks had been - not only the lives lost on the four airliners, but the lives lost at the Pentagon and in the World Trade Center. And then, there were the lives of those who answered the first calls for help on that sunny morning. The police officers, federal agents, firefighters and emergency medical personnel and others who entered the twin towers as they burned, unaware that in less than 90 minutes from the time they had been struck, that the buildings would collapse into piles of rubble.
Hundreds of public safety personnel sacrificed their lives that day, trying to protect and serve those who were in danger, in harms way and in need of help. And, there were civilians who helped round up their co-workers, guide them from the buildings, and then returned to find more co-workers and friends.
In 11 years, the rubble is gone, construction on a new ?World Trade Center tower is underway on the same spot as the original towers. A memorial service is held every year on Sept. 11 at the site, and the names of those who perished are read in tribute and remembrance. The Pentagon was repaired, and a memorial has been erected in the farm field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Remembrances are held at those locations as well every year on Sept. 11.
Tuesday morning, flags were flown at half-staff throughout the state as a gesture of remembrance to those who became casualties of war.
There are many moments in our nation's history that are dark moments, but our country has been able to persevere and continue, learning from the setback and moving forward. We need to all take a moment to reflect, and to renew our commitment to continue to move forward in our everyday lives. The best tribute to those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, is to never forget that moment in history.