Unable to fathom what I was seeing, reality slowly sinking in with fear and sorrow for company, I watched the plumes of smoke billow into the air like a black flag signaling the forthcoming death toll.
Beam by beam, brick by brick the walls of the Twin Towers came down, to slumber as a tomb encasing more than 2,700 people. It was truly one of the most horrific things to ever occur before my eyes as, like many in the world, I stood glued to the television on Sept. 11, 2001.
Even 12 years later the effect and tragedy has little dissipated as I think of all who lost their lives. The passengers aboard the planes hijacked by suicidal al-Qaeda terrorists, the people who went about their normal routines as they worked at the World Trade Center Complex and the many fire, police and emergency medical service personnel who rushed into the mass chaotic inferno to save the injured, they all share a special place in the memory of this nation, one that should never dim.
More than 50 years later, we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor and honor those killed in the surprise slaughter. On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy led a military strike on Pearl Harbor, leading to the death of more than 2,400 people and injuring more than 1,200. Historically the desecration of the Hawaiian naval base has been agreed upon as the worst attack on U.S. soil. No longer does the attack retain its place in history alone, kept company by the terrorist attack that killed more than 3,000 and injured more than 6,000, tearing to pieces the hearts of our nation and in reaction caused the men and women of America to stand shoulder to shoulder to say no more.
Through my childhood years, I remember the Cold War and the threat of attack by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. During my high school years I watched several of my fellow classmates go one by one, full of American pride, to battle in the Persian Gulf War. Since that time it seems we have been on a never-ending path of military support for many countries in the Middle East. Never did I dream, in my lifetime, I would see an attack on U.S. soil, much less one the magnitude of 9/11.
So today, as we honor the fallen of that horrific injustice unleashed on our country, take a moment to remember that feeling that coursed through your body as your watched the events unfold. Remember the multitude of children left without a parent, the spouse left alone or the parent who lost a child in the destruction. Never let that memory fade. For a brief time it made us the strongest and closest nation on this earth. I believe that is what our forefathers dreamed of when they named this land the United States of America.
Kim Ross is editor of the Poteau Daily News. Write her at P.O. Box 1237, Poteau, OK 74953 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.