My first instinct when the 9/11 commemoration hype became more and more pervasive was to try to avoid the whole thing. On that day ten years ago, I was three weeks out from a radical hysterectomy that wasn't healing right and three months out from the first of two breast cancer surgeries that year. I was already pretty much a basket case when Spouse broke the news that a plane had hit one of the Towers in NYC.
But then today, reading a story in the Washington Post Style section (of all places) forced me to change my mind. It was about two Air Force pilots stationed at Andrews AFB, just outside of the District. For ten years they kept their incredible mission from the general public. Steve Hendrix wrote their story.
Within minutes of the hit on the Pentagon, then Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney and her commander, Col. George Degnon, received orders to stop Flight 93 before it could get to D.C.
Taking off they were sure they would not be returning. There wasn't time to arm their F16s. They would have to crash their planes into a commercial jet, filled with innocent passengers. They would not have come home if the passengers on 93 hadn't taken the situation into their own hands.
Learning about this started me thinking about the thousands of untold/unheard stories of survivors and rescuers. Some may never become public because the participants cannot bring themselves to remember. Others died before they could to tell their stories.
Sunday is a significant anniversary for every American and many more around the world. The terrorists won nothing. Just as the perpetrators of other attacks on American, they simply earned our disdain and awakened our patriotism.
Rather than relive my and others' terrifying experiences of ten years ago, I'll take time on Sunday to think about all those who couldn't tell their stories. I will also remember the comforting sound of our own fighter jets flying high over the city -- day and night for months -- protecting us.
Living in Washington, D.C. is sometimes like living in a giant bullseye. Having said that, I feel safer today than I did ten years ago. It's my home and where I belong.
Note: I changed the title of this post because I thought it was too glib. I offer apologies to anyone I might have offended.