Monday, August 29, 2011

Red, White and Blue Scar

I've come to realize that 9/11 will always be a national scar. Unlike the slight hint of a scar I have over my right eye where stitches went when I decided to catch a fastball with my face when I was 12-years-old; it's one that runs deep.

It's there underneath the surface waiting to be opened up on every anniversary or conversation that begins with a question about where you were or what you were doing on 9/11. I had a chance to open up a few wounds over the past few weeks with those types of questions.

It's surprising to me some of the answers you get. Fond du Lac Fire Chief Pete O'Leary was working for a fire department in Wheaton, Illinois at the time. He says someone from that town was on Flight 93 and were among the passengers that rushed the cockpit, which led to crashing the plane before hijackers could do with it what others had done to the Twin Towers. He also had a brother who was a pilot and they were worried about him that day.

Fond du Lac City Manager Tom Herre had a buddy working at the Pentagon. We sometimes forget about the lives that were lost there that day. Fond du Lac City Council President Rick Gudex was working in West Bend that day. He remembers not believing what he was hearing on the radio when the second plane hit the Towers.

Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel says he knew when the first plane hit it was a terrorism event. He says after the second one hit the County began firming up a team to discuss what should be done locally. He says they were very concerned about the White House and the Capitol being hit. He says it was very scary.

I was working in Beaver Dam at the time. I remember talking with a young man from the area who was working in New York. From a nearby office building he and some coworkers witnessed the planes hit the two towers. He says it was scary because for the rest of the city it was business as usual. His mother feared when she first couldn't get ahold of him, but he was out with others donating blood and doing what they could.

In the days following the attacks the Country stood united and buying and displaying the American flag once again was in fashion. A year later I was now working in Fond du Lac and we aired a live one-year annivesary gathering that was held at the Fond du Lac High School Performing Arts Center. Feelings were still very strong about what had happened.

Ten years later whenever I hear Lee Greenwood sing "God Bless the U.S.A." I can't help, but be rushed back to that time, that hurt, that anger, that feeling of unity. It's still a painful scar stitched together with red, white and blue thread.

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