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Celebrate the American Spirit
By Roger Ball
9/11/2015 8:02:00 AM

American Flags

Today is September 11. 

It has also come to be known as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. It’s today we remember those we lost 14 years ago on that tragic Tuesday, but it is also the day we celebrate the absolute best of the American spirit.

As a former U.S. Navy pilot who served in several military operations, I live with my own memories — and a very unique perspective — of that fateful day. I remember it very clearly.

I was retired from the Navy but had gone on to serve as a DOD contractor. I had gotten up that morning and worked out. I was scheduled for two separate meetings at the Pentagon, but for some reason I suddenly decided I needed to go to my main offices instead of the meetings. I changed clothes and headed to work. I remember a retired U.S. Army Colonel walked by my office and remarked that an aircraft had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a beautiful clear day and the air corridors are far enough away from the Twin Towers that it being an accident didn’t make sense. We never even considered that it was an airliner, and frankly, I thought it was a light civil aircraft. I yelled after him – “you better check and see what they say – that may have been a terrorist attack”. Within minutes details came in and we realized that it indeed was an attack.

We had a very large room with a projection TV where everyone gathered. Someone saw me and said “I thought you were at the Pentagon today?” Soon reports of the Pentagon strike came in and I immediately reacted the only way I knew how: “We have people down there; we need to track down everyone’s whereabouts.”

Much like a Squadron Duty Officer would have done, we all reverted to old military skills. Several folks starting calling and locating our people. And the guy I was supposed to meet with? The aircraft that struck the Pentagon flew right over him as he was nearing the building. Later, the FBI spoke with him several times. As an aviator, he was able to answer several questions for them that a non-aviator wouldn’t have been able to answer as effectively, and at that time, the FBI needed answers.

I called my wife and of course the lines were hammered. Finally reaching her, she told me that our kids had been sequestered at their schools, but were supposed to be sent home soon. The attack had such a profound effect on us. Attacked in our own country? We watched the second plane hit the towers and saw the people jump to their deaths. I’ve seen a lot, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. I got home and we tried to explain to our sons what had happened and what it meant to us – to Americans. Feeling a need for distraction and normalcy we went out into our yard and played football for the rest of the day…

My 9/11 story is just one of many across this country, no bigger or better than anyone else’s. And it’s that commonality that binds us together as Americans — a desire to be stronger and more courageous, to lift one another up not simply to remember those that were lost, but celebrate and preserve our values that they too shared.

Every day I have the opportunity to meet and interact with the very people that keep this country moving forward, a constant reminder of our nation’s perseverance and dedication to the memory of those that came before us all.

Today, I hope you join me in not only remembering, but also thanking the patriots in your life.

From my Alpha Industries family to yours, thank you.

Roger Ball

Editor's Note: Roger Ball is a pseudonym for one of our Alpha Industries employees who is a retired U.S. Navy Pilot that served in operations in Bosnia and the Gulf. We feel his experience and patriotism echoes the true spirit and sentiments of  U.S. Vets of any military branch. 

Tags: Proud to be an American, September 11, Patriot Day, National Day of Service and Rememberance
Categories: Events, Holidays
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