D + 15….. we’ve forgotten

I’ve driven the section of the Washington Beltway from Legion Bridge up to I-95 many times, at all hours of the day and many hours of the night; I’m always amazed at how packed it is during the day, how wall to wall it is at rush hour, and how crowded it is even at 2am.

That day, I drove the whole route from Northern Virginia to Howard County at 75 mph, with no more than four or five cars in sight at any time in both directions; overhead, in that unforgettable blue sky, was the distinctive crack and boom of supersonic fighter jets patrolling.

Never forget.


It’s a good slogan. But we have. We have already forgotten.  What we have forgotten are the indelible lessons of that day. We have forgotten that we are one nation, that we can come together despite politics, despite race, despite religion, despite economics, to help one another. We have forgotten what it is like to care for one another, to help one another, to support one another. We have forgotten the resiliency of our spirit as a people. Instead, we focus on hating those that did this. We focus on disparaging those who disagree with us. We focus on us, ourselves, our needs, our opinions, our voice.  We have forgotten “us”, remember only “me”.


Over the years, I have developed belated admiration for a couple of pairs of lessor known people in the story. First up are Secretary Mineta and the FAA Command Center who ordered all aircraft down immediately, and closed US airspace. Going out on that kind of unanticipated limb of authority takes audacity….or fear. We aren’t talking about the President, or any elected official.  We’re talking an appointee and a civil servant.  Either way, it was a gutsy call.

The other pair is Col. Marc Sasseville and Lt. Heather Penny. Scrambled from Andrews AFB, their mission was to protect the Washington, DC with their F-16s. Unfortunately, they had no weapons. Amazing as it is now to comprehend, there were no jets on hot standby with armaments. They got the planes up, but they did not have functioning weapons on board. What they had was only their skill and their intention. They would have had to use their planes as aerial kamikazes. Up they went none the less.

My admiration also extends to the now somewhat better known story of the town of Gander, Newfoundland. A town of 10,000 that suddenly had 10,000 visitors in the form of planes that were forced to land due to closed US airspace. A town that opened doors and opened homes and took people in, embracing them and connecting with them. O Canada.

I wonder what D +30 will show, what will be remembered, what will be missed. I hope we don’t forget anymore.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: