This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on our country.
I will never forget that day. The way we live changed forever when al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes on a beautiful sunny morning along the upper east coast.
Two of the airplanes were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center towers. Both towers collapsed a short time later.
One airplane was flown into the Pentagon.
One airplane crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA after passengers attacked the hijackers. Its ultimate target has never been determined.
Almost 3,000 people died that day, or later from injuries received.
We just pulled out of the country we attacked after 9/11.
It was our longest war.
The death toll, per the Associated Press, is as follows:
• American service members killed in Afghanistan (through April) - 2,448
• U.S. contractors - 3,846
• Afghan national military and police - 66,000
• Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states - 1,144
• Afghan civilians - 47,245
• Taliban and other opposition fighters - 51,191
• Aid workers – 444
• Journalists – 72
That’s 172,390 people, plus those who died on 9/11.
I mentioned earlier that our lives changed after 9/11.
Probably the biggest change experienced by the average person is flying commercial airlines.
No longer are we free to stroll through an airport and board an airplane the way we could Sept. 10, 2001.
Writing about 9/11, Hurricane Harvey, the pandemic, the February freeze, and other monumental events in my life is therapeutic for me.
What were you doing when you heard the news about 9/11?
Sept. 11, 2001 was no different than today (a Monday) as I write this column. I’m up all night on Mondays, and had just crawled into bed early Tuesday morning when one of my employees called.
“Mike, turn on the TV,” she said in a very solemn voice. “I think our country is being attacked.”
I turned on the TV and instinctively pushed a tape into my VHS recorder. Then I rushed back to the office, changed the layout of the front page, and rewrote my column.
Twenty years ago the midweek edition was driven to the press at the Port Lavaca Wave shortly after noon on Tuesdays so there was time to make the changes. Today it is sent to a press in Rosenberg electronically at around 6 a.m.
In many ways, it seems like yesterday … not 20 years ago.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 9/11 … in my life, and in the life of our country.
On 9/11 I was 41, and our daughters were 12 and 13 years of age.
I’m now 61, have two great son-in-laws, and six healthy grandchildren.
In another 20 years I’ll be 81, if I live that long. That’s 10 years younger than my parents are today.
When I look at the many blessings I’ve received, by God’s grace, since 9/11, I can’t help but think of the approximately 175,000 people who never had the opportunity to have a full life as a direct result of what occurred that fateful Tuesday morning 20 years ago.
Reflecting on the 20 years that have passed since the towers fell, makes me realize even more than before that I’m only granted today.
As I finished writing today’s column, I reread the column I rewrote that Tuesday morning 20 years ago.
I share it with you today (see photo), as a glimpse into how I felt hours after I learned we were being attacked.
Let us never forget.
Let us learn.
Let us love.
Let us return to the unity we felt on 9/12.
Until next week, have a good week!
Mike Probst can be reached at email@example.com.