Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

On the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11, our CEO and cofounder Doug Goodyear shares his memories of that day. You can view his LinkedIn post here.

Tomorrow our country – and the world – will stop to remember the 20th anniversary of the Attack on America and honor the lives lost on that terrible day.

That morning, 20 years ago, I was at my home in Arizona preparing to take my two elementary aged kids to school when my phone rang. On the other end was a DCI colleague saying, “Turn on the TV now and see what’s happening. We’re under attack.” 

There at just after 6:30 am, I rushed to the TV and watched – with millions of others – in disbelief as CNN re-ran footage of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
The rest of the day I was glued to the television. What I remember mainly was the confusion and concern: Reports about a crash at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania were sketchy. Was a plane headed to the White House? Or aimed at the Capitol? Would there be more buildings attacked? 

All air travel was shut down. And speculation about what was next continued. We all wondered if this was just the first wave of attacks. But when would the next wave come and what would it be?

Those answers came soon enough. 

Commercial airplane flights resumed a few days later but the mood was decidedly different – more somber and more suspicious – for a while. Some barricades went up across DC and security was noticeably tighter at government buildings, but the decision was to try to return to normal as quickly as possible.

As the days passed and the magnitude of what happened became apparent, the other two items that stand out most in my memory are:

  • The heroism of the police and firefighters at Ground Zero. Their collective courage was amazing – ordinary people doing extraordinary things under the worst possible circumstances. Time hasn’t diminished my admiration and respect for what those people did.
  • The bravery of the passengers on Flight 93. It’s been captured in a movie, but the debt we owe them for stopping the terrorists from hitting the US Capitol (or the White House) in Washington is considerable. As bad as 9/11 was it would have been infinitely worse had that plane made it to DC. Again, otherwise ordinary people showed extraordinary courage in facing down evil, and we are indebted to them for doing it.

It’s been twenty years and yet I recall so much of this like it was yesterday. America has been spared terrorist attacks on our soil for two decades now – a streak we all hope extends indefinitely.
But more so, 9/11 showed the best of America, even on our darkest day. Our collective resolve demonstrated to ourselves and to the world that, although we may disagree amongst ourselves, we still are a nation of compassionate people who look out for each other and are driven by an American spirit of freedom that began with our Founders 245 years ago. 

It’s that spirit that I hope we rediscover and see grow and flourish in the years and decades ahead.

Washington, DC

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