We all have moments in our lives that we never forget. We know exactly where we were when we heard certain news. For some people that moment was when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when JFK was shot, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, or when the OJ verdict came in. For almost all of us, one of those moments surely was the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
I was sitting at a networking group meeting at Ada's Restaurant (it's no longer there) in Arlington Heights. Tom Gosche was speaking, although I can't tell you what his talk was on, as a morning news show caught my eye on the tv across the room and I could focus on anything else. Tom had his back to the tv and it was on mute, so he had no idea what I or anyone else saw. The screen was showing a plane flying into the World Trade Center and then smoke billowing from the building. Sitting there in silence, I had no idea if anyone else in the group had just seen what I saw. And, of course, I didn't really know what I'd seen.
Shortly thereafter, the meeting ended and no one said anything about what I'd seen on the news, so I figured I was the only one who saw it. When I got into my car and flipped on the radio, I immediately realized that what I'd seen was no accident. Immediately, I called my friend Jason who worked in the financial district in New York, but the cell phone lines were jammed.
Arriving home a few minutes later, my brother Dave, who was in town for Mom's birthday the next day, was glued to CNN and I walked in just in time to witness the second plane fly into the World Trade Center live. Mom wasn't home because she'd gone to O'Hare to pick up her lifelong friend Kathy, who just happened to be flying in for a work conference that morning from Memphis.
At the time, Dave was living in Brooklyn, but had just happened to come to town for a week. He tried calling his friends, but ran into the same jammed phone lines I reached.
Not knowing what to do and like the rest of the nation, bouncing back and forth between confusion, horror, and dismay, Dave and I finally decided to go give blood. We didn't know how it might help, but we figured there would be lots of people needing blood and that was all we could do from the suburbs of Chicago.
One of the things that struck me about that day, and still remains in the forefront of my mind as we celebrate the ten year anniversary of September 11th, is the amount of sacrifice that police officers, fire fighters and other first responders made not just that day, but every day.
As people were fleeing New York and Washington DC, police officers and fire fighters ran into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Every single day, they put their own lives in danger, even in the safest communities in our nation. When police office pulls over a speeder, he doesn't know what he'll encounter when he approaches the driver. They run into burning buildings. They work in all kinds of weather and on all the holidays. And they do so without complaining. By all definitions, police officers and fire fighters are heroes.
I don't know about you, but I'm awfully grateful for our first responders and the sacrifices they make. They make those sacrifices so we don't have to worry and can feel safe. If you have the opportunity today stop and say thank you to all the police officers and fire fighters you see. They more than deserve our gratitude.