It was just another routine day for the people working at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and for those traveling on American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93. Routine until more than 3,000 of these innocent people lost their lives when that calm September morning was shattered by terrorists driven by hatred and destruction.
Every single person old enough to understand what was happening on Sept. 11, 2001 will have these tragic events ingrained in their memory forever. It was hard to believe what we were seeing.
But then we saw something else.
We saw the greatness of America in the bravery of victims; in the heroism of first responders who laid down their lives to save others; in the compassion of people who stepped forward to help those they had never met; and in the generosity of millions of Americans who enriched our country with acts of service and kindness.
So much of this greatness came from right here in our own community.
It was demonstrated when $1 million was raised in our area to help the victims of these attacks; and in the courage of our brave men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan, in Iraq and around the world. We have seen this greatness further demonstrated by dozens of Columbia County citizens who have recently volunteered for training to become members of our new Community Emergency Response Team, which is part of a national initiative designed to enhance the ability of communities to respond to terrorist attacks and other emergencies.
And on a daily basis, we see this greatness in our fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel who selflessly and tirelessly stand on the front lines, ready to be first on the scene for whatever emergency arises.
Even in our darkest hour, the goodness that comes from people like these lifts us up and helps us to start healing.
Tomorrow, Sept. 11, 2003, has been designated by Congress as Patriot Day in America. All units of government and citizens are requested to fly the U. S. flag at half-staff - from sunrise to sundown - and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. (or another appropriate commemorative time) to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks.
It is important for us to remember and honor all of the precious lives that were lost that day, as well as the first responders who gave their all to save others, members of the armed forces who are pursuing the war on terrorism, everyone who answered the call by volunteering, and many others in our community who continue to work hard to make sure that all of our days can just be routine.
(Pam Tucker is director of the Emergency Services Division of Columbia County government.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.