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My recollection of September 11, 2001:

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 began no differently for me than any other — a cup of coffee in hand, the morning news playing on television and —That's where it all changed. Not for a second, or even a moment, but forever.

Breaking news indicated that a small plane had flown into the side of one of the Twin Towers in New York City, a place where I had visited often. I have stood at the base of those magnificent monstrosities and cringed at what it would be like for one of them to ever topple. But of course, they never would.

As news crews arrived on the scene of the World Trade Center, and a helicopter news cameraman pointed the lens at the side of the tower, I could see flames barreling out the side.

It was a moment I shall never forget. While one tower burned, from out of nowhere another plane was suddenly visible. Then, without warning or expectation, another explosion rocked the second tower so hard that it shook me at the very core of my being — over 300 miles away from the point of impact.

Then I remember my chest hurt, my breathing was harder than normal and my pulse was racing beyond belief.
A combination of shock and disbelief resounded within my spirit. Before I could recover from the first impact, a second had already happened.

Without mercy, news anchors continued to talk about yet another plane — this one landing in the side of the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.

While attempting to process the events that were taking place before my very eyes, I heard more talk, this one about a fourth airplane reportedly in flight to the nation's capital. I remember wanting to run, but not knowing what I was running to, or running from, I felt almost glued to the floor on which I was standing.

The events that surrounded the fourth plane, Flight 91, played out like a Hollywood movie, with death and destruction, offset by courage and heroism. The people aboard that flight literally sacrificed their lives to save the countless lives of so many other potential victims.

In the midst of darkness, suddenly a light shined through. At a time when nothing made sense at all, without warning we were embraced by selfless and sacrificial acts of bravery.

I watched in utter amazement when the towers came crashing down. I watched as people ran for their lives, only to be engulfed by complete darkness brought about the massive clouds of black smoke. Do I remember? I shall never forget. Within an instant every playing field was leveled. Blacks and whites, young and old, rich and poor — every person could relate to one another.

Every person, gripped by fear and anguish, shock, and a sense of numbness that doesn't go away. The past two years has been like recovering from a stroke. Little by little the numbness wears off and the feeling begins to return. But you don't forget where you've been, and you don't forget how you got there. You only hope and pray that you never have to go there again.

Don Kesner, age 51


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