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Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 9-11

Just a Thought: 9-11 Remembrances
By Steve Walker

Today we celebrate the 15thanniversary of the 9-11 massacre of nearly 3-thousand people during a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks on New York City and the Washington D.C. area on that fateful Tuesday morning.

Many of us remember vividly where we were and what we were doing when the disaster happened.

On that day, I was a Special Education Teacher at Kingsborough Middle School in Harlandale ISD. I recall sitting in the back of the classroom at the computer gathering information for my students. The lead teacher was presenting a lesson while I was getting the needed material when a fellow teacher burst into the room and shouted that planes had just crashed into the World Towers in New York City.

The other teacher immediately turned on the television and we watched aghast as the scenario played out in front of us. All day long, students and faculty in various classrooms were glued to the TV.  Students and teachers were engaged in numerous discussions about the repercussions. It touched us all.

At lunchtime, one of my fellow teachers shared with us that her father was scheduled to be in the Pentagon that day and she hadn’t heard from him. She was a mess. The next day she related that her father had been in the Pentagon moments before the plane struck the side of the building where he normally would have been. The plane struck his office area. Fortunately he left the Pentagon just moments earlier for another appointment, thus saving him from being one of the nearly 3,000 to perish.

Another teacher I taught with told us days later that her aunt was standing near the Towers at the time, when a huge piece of concrete weighing hundreds of pounds fell off the tower and landed very near her.

The impact was so great the backlash threw her more than 20 feet away. When she woke up two days later she didn’t remember anything. She did suffer a broken collar bone. Thank God she lived to tell about it.

Closer to home, I heard from one of my brothers who was living in North Carolina and did business in New York. He was scheduled to be on the very plane that crashed into the Pentagon. He related to me that he cancelled minutes before the plane left the airport because he received a message that he needed to return to the office of a client whom he had previously visited. He then rescheduled a later flight that day to accommodate the client. Again it could have been devastating.

People also forget that numerous Hispanics perished in that terrorist attack. The Dominican community contributed the highest quota of fatalities, (25) among all the Hispanics who died in the carnage that fateful day. But today, 15 years after the terrorist attack, very few remember many of those victims and how it continues to affect their loved ones. 

According to official figures, 9 percent of all citizens that died that day were Dominicans, Columbians, Ecuadorians, Cubans, Argentinians, Chilean, Haitians, Mexicans and others from El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay, and even some from Guyana.
 
We recall that four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. 227 civilians and the hijackers aboard those four planes died. It was also the deadliest catastrophe for firefighters and law enforcement officers with 343 and 72 respectively.

The words of President Franklin Roosevelt when Pearl Harbor was bombed, ring loud and clear many years later quote: “It is a day that will live in infamy.” It certainly applies to September 11th, 2001.

On a more positive note, I remarried my wife, Linda, one year ago today on 9-11. Also a day I won’t forget!

As always, I write “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace 

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