Sept. 11, 2001, began out as an atypical day. My spouse had a busy schedule, together with a morning assembly on the Pentagon. She labored in a price range place on the Protection Intelligence Company. I used to be retired at house with our three younger kids.
The night time earlier than, our younger daughter had been up all night time with an earache. Early that morning, she begged my spouse to take her to the 9 a.m. physician’s appointment that I had made for her. So my spouse referred to as into work and requested another person to take the assembly.
That morning, the workplace the place the assembly was to be held was destroyed by an airplane crashing into the Pentagon.
All morning whereas my spouse and daughter have been on the physician’s workplace the cellphone rang because the personnel in her workplace referred to as to verify in and make sure that they have been all proper. A number of had been out of the workplace when the aircraft hit; others have been assigned to different authorities workplaces within the Washington space.
I obtained a name from a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander who labored for my spouse. She referred to as to say that the person who had changed her at her earlier place within the Pentagon had been hit by the hijacked jetliner when it crashed. It turned out that each one personnel in that workplace have been killed. Her alternative was a younger Navy lieutenant with a 1-month-old child. She was driving to the lieutenant’s house to stick with his spouse till they’d extra data. She mentioned she would name me again as quickly as “issues settled down” there.
My eyes began to tear up as a hung up. A number of hours later she referred to as again, sobbing barely and mentioned she can be staying in a single day with the widow to assist with the sorrow and the infant. We hung up, and I had a brief cry. I don’t cry simply as I used to be a hardened Marine Corps and Particular Forces noncommissioned officer earlier than I used to be direct commissioned as an intelligence officer. That day was actually as Franklin Roosevelt mentioned of about Pearl Harbor “a day that may reside in infamy.”
My spouse returned that afternoon however many didn’t. All of us went to mattress as a heat and protected household once more. The subsequent a number of days have been a whirlwind of individuals contacts, morale enchancment efforts and funerals. Within the workplace the place the assembly was presupposed to be held seven Protection Intelligence Company workers have been killed and most of the survivors have been badly injured. I used to be very grateful that my spouse was spared.
Some years earlier, I labored within the Pentagon as a civilian intelligence officer for the U.S. Military deputy chief of employees for intelligence together with my spouse. We typically took our lunch breaks to eat on the Pentagon Middle Pavilion snack bar. Whereas there, I observed the massive fir timber, 30 to 40 ft tall, have been depositing their seedlings beneath their large branches. I dug up a few of these seedlings and transplanted them beneath the southern pine tree rising in our northern Virginia yard. Our home in Virginia was constructed a few years earlier than by a U.S. Military colonel on the very floor that had been part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plantation. The timber thrived in fertile floor that had as soon as been a big corn subject.
Once I moved to Tahlequah in 2006, I introduced 5 of these “seedlings,” which have been by then over 6 ft tall. I planted them and consider that small grove as a 9/11 memorial. We positioned a small marble monument with a brass plate subsequent to the timber. It says:
“Devoted to the seven fellow Protection Company Intelligence Officers that misplaced their lives on 11 September 2001 on the Pentagon Washington D.C. Might their deaths not be in useless and we reaffirm the necessity to defend our nation and Structure.”
While you move our house in Tahlequah, don’t ask yourselves who these candles are burning for. They aren’t only for these seven DIA workers killed in that workplace. To paraphrase the poet John Donne: These candles are burning for all U.S. residents who try to be sincere and glad of their pursuit of an excellent life.
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S.L. “Hack” Hackworth, a retired U.S. Military Reserve lieutenant colonel and U.S. Marine Corps and Particular Forces noncomissioned officer, lives in Tahlequah.
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S.L. “Hack” Hackworth, a retired U.S. Military Reserve lieutenant colonel, and U.S. Marine Corps and Particular Forces non-comissioned officer, lives in Tahlequah.