9/11: We remember and we've answered the call
By Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th SW Commander
/ Published September 12, 2008
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- My belief is that everyone reading this can remember exactly where they were, exactly what they were doing and exactly how they felt when they got the word - and saw the horrific images we can still see in our minds of what happened Sept. 11, 2001.
It is hard to believe that seven years have passed since that terrible morning in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in western Pennsylvania, when four fully loaded planes went down at the hands of nineteen terrorists.
Nearly three thousand people died that day, including 125 military and civilian employees from the Pentagon, and another 2,600 people at the site of the suddenly missing Twin Towers in New York City, not to mention all the passengers and crew aboard the four downed aircraft.
It was - and still is - the deadliest attack on U.S. territory in our nation's history.
Many of us were understandably confused, angered, and even worried - maybe all at the same time.
But if the terrorists thought these attacks would make us cower, turn tail and run, they don't know much about the way Americans think. And act.
President Bush put it this way: "On September the 11th, 2001, history called on our nation to defend freedom once again... Americans witnessed the violence and the hatred of a new enemy. We saw the terrorists' destructive vision for us and for all who love freedom.
"And in the face of this threat, our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive, we will not wait to be attacked again, and we will press on until this war is won," he said.
The Air Force has done its part to stay on the offensive. Since that horrendous day - one that will certainly live in infamy - our Airmen have responded to more than 500,000 deployments and have flown more than one million sorties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Since Sept. 11, we have the highest ops tempo since our inception in 1947, and I'm proud to say we are doing a magnificent job.
Every single day, we have Airmen around the world who find themselves in harm's way. They are there in direct relation - and response to - the events of September 11, 2001.
Let's never, ever lose sight of that fact. Because we all remember where we were, what we were doing and how we felt. And we can still close our eyes and see it. It's not just another day.