September 11

September 11, 2011

It’s a beautiful day, just like ten years ago. We just drove through a town center and there was a small gathering by the war memorial. People held up signs “We Will Always Remember” and applauded as we drove by. Shortly after in the Dunkin’ Dougnuts, a woman walked up to me and thanked me for what I do.

I admit to being somewhat uncomfortable for this type of recognition. I didn’t walk up the stairs into a burning tower or ram a food cart into a cockpit door to take a down a plane headed for the US Capitol. I don’t wear camouflage and body armour, and carry out dangerous midnight raids. Like anyone, I go to work and try to help people. Some days I do it better than others. I try to always be careful. I get paid every week. I go home to my family at night.

Sitting on post, we talked about how crazy life was like in the aftermath 10 years ago. We thought there were thousands of sleeper cells ready to wreak their evil havoc on us. One of my partners was certain the Arab American who ran her corner grocery was a terrorist. She talked about how she always saw him in the back room, talking with his other buddies – they had to be plotting. My partner today just told me about a friend of his family’s who was a pilot, and while a regular American, he had a Muslin name. When he announced his name to his passengers the day air flights resumed over the country, half of them stood and walked off the plane.

Not long after September 11, I was on duty, handling a school bus accident when over the radio, I heard a call go out for an explosion at the Civic Center with reports of thick black smoke in the air. On the radio, I heard the first responding unit, put out and promise a quick casualty update. The local TV channels went to live coverage, but it soon turned out the explosion and smoke were from a transformer that blew up. The terrorists hadn’t chosen our civic enter as their next target.

Will they attack again? Perhaps today on this 10th Anniversary? It’s hard to believe this beautiful still morning could be transformed into chaos. But someday it likely will happen again.

And we’ll find out once more of what we are made.

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Peter Canning

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