Remembering 9/11

Your letters and emails about how the terror attacks changed your life
Oklahoman Published: September 11, 2011
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I went to lunch around 11 a.m. and called my Guard unit, the 115th Military Police Battalion, at noon to see if we had been activated for duty ... When I got home (that evening), I received a message stating that I had to report to the Salisbury Armory in less than an hour ... By noon the next day we received orders to report to the Pentagon ... I remember the smell of death and jet fuel our first night on duty inside the Pentagon ...

We stayed at the Pentagon for approximately 30 thirty days. During that time we were allowed to tour the crash site with CIA/FBI escorts. The hole in the side of the building does no justice to the hole inside the building that burned through many of the underlying levels ... 9/11 and the resulting War on Terror have changed my way of life forever. Before 9/11 I considered myself something of a patriot ready to defend this country. Having been a Marine, I felt OK with this ideal. The attacks on 9/11 galvanized any pride that I had and formed that it into an unwavering sense of patriotism. Since 9/11, I have been a National Guardsman, an airman, a soldier, and currently a Reservist. I have been a part of the Pentagon mission, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet, I have never been more proud to be an American than on that fateful day 10 years ago.

Stephen Fischer, Yukon

On that morning I was out of the Pentagon, attending a meeting in downtown Washington, DC. I was then a major in the Marine Corps, assigned to the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon's in-house think tank. Like the rest of the country, those of us in the meeting first heard of the attacks in New York City. Moments later, we heard of an explosion back at the Pentagon. Assuming that Washington was under attack too, we were told to evacuate the upper-floor conference room of the office building we were in. As we emerged into the street, we — like everyone around us — tried to make sense of what was going on ...

Some people had heard of other attacks across the country, that U.S. fighters were racing to intercept other planes … but no one really knew ...

As I subsequently sought a way to get home, the sense of community emerging in the great crowds of people around me was palpable, spontaneously arising from the shared proximity to such a horrific event ... When I finally arrived back to my house, the phone rang off the hook with the concerned calls of friends and family back home in Oklahoma. Those of us who were able volunteered to assist in the surge of planning activities necessary to both respond to the attacks and to protect the country from further attack. For the first couple of weeks, I assisted in Marine Corps planning efforts to ready the service for our national response effort. By the end of September, I was on my way to U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., responding to a call for additional officers to help plan and execute the operation that was to unfold against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since then, our country has suffered 1,756 deaths in Afghanistan and another 4,474 in Iraq, with 1,135 amputees from Iraq alone. There has been a financial cost, too, with some estimates ranging as high as $3 trillion when taking into account long-term medical support for our veterans ...

I cannot begin to estimate the intangible costs incurred by families directly impacted by repeated deployments and the wounding or loss of a loved one. These must not be forgotten.

Dakota Wood, Claremore



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