The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were shocking and incomprehensible for most of us. Suddenly our world had changed, and we didn’t see it coming. U.S intelligence officials had been tracking Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations for years, and there had been significant attacks carried out overseas. Most of the American public took little notice at the time.
Then on September 11, we looked at our TV screens and saw those jets crashing into the twin towers. We could now see for ourselves that there exists an enemy bent on our total destruction.
Like many, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when the first plane struck the twin towers. I was running the newsroom at a Boston television station, planning and executing local news assignments. After work I would join my family to celebrate my wife’s birthday. I never made it to the birthday celebration that night. My wife’s birthday would never be the same. No one in this country would ever be the same. Our world had changed.
As Americans we immediately showed our resolve, banding together in patriotic spirit, realizing there was nothing more important than defeating our enemies who say they will never rest until we are eliminated.
We never thought we were this vulnerable. Then we saw with our own eyes that we were. Our world had changed.
During the course of 13 years, with heightened security and awareness of terrorist threats, it seems natural to relax a bit. But then Americans were once again subjected to visual images that shocked our nation into action: American journalists being beheaded by ISIS terrorists.
It was back in March, 2013 that ISIS seized the Syrian city of Raqqa. In February, 2014, Al Qaeda renounced ISIS as too brutal and impatient. But despite the critically important events taking place in Syria, ISIS was barely ever mentioned in the media by our leaders. Instead, our focus was still on removing our troops from Iraq. Even though ISIS had been making considerable noise since 2011, most of us had never heard of the group. Then we saw an American murdered on video. And then another.
Our world that changed so much on September 11, 2001 has not changed much since. Our enemies are still there, threats to our freedoms and very existence are quite real.
We all realize it now, because we saw it again, with our own eyes.
Though I now work to enhance media relations for a variety of top clients, I still view the September 11 attacks and aftermath though a journalist’s eye. I can only hope these eyes never have to see anything resembling the horrible scenes witnessed 13 years ago.