17 years later. Where were you on 9/11?

indexThere are fewer and fewer who are around to remember what they were doing when Pearl Harbor was attacked. When President Kennedy or Martin Luther King were assassinated.

Those times of national sadness were common threads that connected Americans of past generations.  Everyone could remember what they were doing.  Everyone knew.

For our generation, that time of shock and the unity that transcended it was a different event. For us, it has defined us as a nation, and coming up on two decades now has still shaped our actions on a world stage.  Every year, it seems farther away, but still on our collective mind.

Where were you on 9/11?

For me, it was a time of shock and uncertainty, but also one of joy, as I was in the hospital witnessing the birth of my eldest son And it’s a column I repeat annually, because especially as he is maturing into adulthood, for me the story of his birth is forever connected to that day.


My kids were at school or at daycare, and my father, who was out of town was expected home that day from visiting a brother and sister in New Jersey. He was to going to be on a flight in the morning out of the Newark, N.J. airport, into Minneapolis. My mother, who had doted on her granddaughters, had passed away the previous November, and this was to be the first child born into the family that she would not see.

As my wife lay there having contractions, I walked out into the hallway where I noticed some floor nurses paying unusual attention to the television. They seemed awestruck, and as I walked over they noted that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. It seemed a horrific accident until shortly after when another jet crashed into the other tower.

It was unheard of in nearly any of our lifetimes, and every medical professional on the hospital floor was abuzz with what was going on. On television, it quickly escalated when reports were coming in from all over of other possible planes being hijacked, and there wasn’t a soul who wasn’t glued to the television.

The military was on high alert, and planes were being grounded and there wasn’t a second of television that was not fully enveloped with the news. I had some troubled thoughts since my father was also to be flying that day, but my primary concern was for my wife.

I would bounce from attending to my wife, and checking updates of the events. I had noted to her a little of what was going on, but wisely she refused to allow the television to be turned on in her hospital suite, and said she didn’t want to know, because she had other business to attend to. And she was moving into more serious labor.

About that time, it was announced that yet another plane had been flown into a section of the Pentagon. Clearly, our nation was under attack, and there was worry written on everyone’s face.  The OB doctors came into the birthing suite and attended to my wife as professionally as could be, despite the distraction of the historic events of the moment. And all staff was in place as my wife gave birth.

After relatively short session of pushing, the baby was born. As my wife had previously given birth to four girls, a cheer went up from the staff as the Doctor announced that my wife had given birth to a boy. She held her first son in her arms for a moment, and the doctors took care of the rest of the business involved in childbirth.

It was a boy! While I love my daughters unquestioningly, and they give me great pride, I’d always longed for a son.

My son was as healthy as could be, and his mother was also doing exceptionally well. As things settled down, and as my exhausted wife began to recover, we turned on the television and discovered that the World Trade Center Towers had fallen. And we also heard the news of a plane out of the Newark Airport that was hijacked had crashed in Pennsylvania.

About that time, I had a call on my cell phone from my father who was noting the absolute pandemonium at the Newark Airport, and his good fortune to get a rental car to travel back to his sisters’. He was safe, and pleased at the news of the birth of his first grandson.

As I got off the phone and the television news recounted and repeated the tragic events of the morning, a lullaby played over the speakers in the hospital. A lullaby. At St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, after the birth of a child it has been their tradition for a number of years to play a lullaby to announce the joyful event.

It was a bit surreal. Amidst all of the pain and carnage of the day, a lullaby announcing the birth of a child.

For a while, I sat with my wife, and then I’d go back and check on my son. I’d do this for a while, alternating between my two family members. After an hour or so, there was another lullaby played over the hospital. And I believe I heard another one a couple of hours after that.

The thing that struck me about that day, with my son being born between the time the Pentagon was hit, and the twin towers came down was this: Hope is eternal.

And it’s an appropriate thought on this day when we remember when so many people died. It’s appropriate on a day when soldiers are fighting and dying for the right of a country to be free. It’s appropriate to remember on a day when we are only starting to count our dead countrymen struck down from a tragic natural disaster. (At the time this was written, the hurricane had just hit New Orleans – pp)

No matter how bad things seem, they will be better. The lullabies playing a duet with the television newscasts taught me that. So has my son.  Hope is eternal. Please remember that and offer your thoughts, prayers, and moral support today for the casualties of 9/11 and our soldiers .

20 Replies to “17 years later. Where were you on 9/11?”

  1. Troy Jones

    I usually post something on Facebook as a reminder. This is what I said this year:

    Where were you when you found out we had been attacked? What did you say to your little kids? When did you realize our lives were fundamentally changed? Did you imagine the magnitude? Is this what our grandparents thought on December 7th? We often lament the fact this “war” continues while WWII ended. However we have to remember after WWII we had the Cold War. Our leaders have tough jobs because they have been facing existential threats for at least 80 years. God Bless all who keep us safe. I stand for them in gratitude.

  2. duggersd

    I remember arriving at work at Mitchell Tech a little after 8:00. Another teacher asked those of us in the studio if we saw the news of the plane crashing into the WTC. I turned on the TV to CNN which at that time actually did the news and that was about the time the second plane hit. It did not take a genius to figure out it was a terror attack. I remember the white anger I felt. I remember the long gas lines I faced that night because we just knew it would be more expensive and harder to get tomorrow (did not happen). I also remember the neighbors gathering in our yards to talk about events. That rarely happens anymore.

  3. Anne Beal

    It seems each generation gets an event which teaches them the world is not the safe place they thought it was.
    I remember my mother’s 70th school reunion 6 years ago and the ladies were talking about Pearl Harbor. They Graduated 6 months later into a world which was vastly different than what they had anticipated, and had great nostalgia for those last few years of innocence before the US entered the war.
    For my generation it was the assassination of JFK. It was incomprehensible; it meant nobody was safe. We all remember when we heard the news.
    On 9/11 I did what my mother had done in 1963: insisted that the kids watch the TV coverage, so that they will be able to tell their children what they remember.

    1. Anonymous

      Some people are ignorant, Anne, and will never learn. They think ‘evil is a make-believe concept’, quit their jobs and bike near ISIS territory only to have hands-on training that evil actually exists.

      We will always remember, honor the fallen heroes and our children will be told the truth. I’d also like to point out that America is very different now. Seventeen years ago, Alex Jones said 9/11 was an inside job. We may disagree with him, but nobody banned him from anything, nobody called for his business to be shut down. Fast forward to today and we can’t even say there are only two genders without the left trying to revoke our 1A rights.

      Some have gone as far as burning down a GOP office, threatening to rape a GOP senator’s staffer, attempting to kill Republicans while they play baseball, mow their lawn and campaign at a fall festival. The left is anything but tolerant.

      1. Anonymous

        Jesus christ. Again: the first amendment applies to GOVERNMENT limitations on freedom of speech. Alex Jones violated the rules of social media platforms time and time again. They were completely within their rights to ban him and their doing so, in no way, violated his first amendment rights. If the government forced social media platforms to host such opinions THAT would be a first amendment violation because it is the government forcing a private company to host speech it does not want to host. This is why the DOJ, in its meeting, has taken great pains to approach the topic from an “anti-competitive” standpoint and not a first amendment one.

        1. Anonymous

          Who else has violated the rules of social media platforms time and time again but still have accounts? How about Sarah Jeong or Louis Farrakhan?

          SJ: “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get from being cruel to old white men.”
          LF: “White people are the devil.”

          My point isn’t about Jones, Jeong or Farrakhan, it’s about freedom of speech and it’s being taken away from people even slightly right of center by Leftists. You do know some WH Senators have influenced Twitter, FB, Instagram and other social media outlets to ban people from their platforms? I’d say that’s govt violating our 1A rights.

          1. Anonymous

            1. Which “WH Senators” (what is that, btw?) influenced these platforms to do so?
            2. How do you argue they did that?
            3. Which users did they want banned?
            4. Did they pass a law mandating private business do so or threaten some sort of funding if they did not?

            Back up your claims and then relate it back to the original point of the argument: that banning Alex Jones from twitter, fb, etc. in any way violates his freedom of speech.

            1. Anonymous

              Uh-oh, you think you know more than what you actually do. I’m not doing research for you, it’s simple, use your search engine. If you use Google, it may take you some time because they block certain information.

              If Twitter and other social media outlets aren’t free speech platforms, then they’re publishing companies. During their hearings they dodged clarifying what they are. Take some time to listen to the hearings and you’ll notice the words free speech mentioned throughout the hours of questioning.

  4. enquirer

    pearl harbor served to fuel the u-s effort to finish world war two; even the kennedy killings were submerged by the wave of strife stemming from vietnam and civil rights riots; 9-11 sits pristine and clear and singular in prominence in the midst of the unresolved middle eastern wars. it won’t go away.

  5. Troy Jones


    Not sure what the Lord has to do with this but anyway:

    You are correct. Alex Jones being banned is not a First Amendment or any other Constitutional issue. But, it may be under the “public accommodation” laws that apply to businesses open to the public. The only way the Alex Jones banning stands is they can show they apply their rules with reasonable uniformity and lack of bias (which is practically as hard to prove as to prove a negative because bias itself is subjective). And, with the recent post-election TGIF “funeral” at Google, I’m guessing they (and the other equally liberal social media companies) are going to tread quite gingerly towards conservatives (and even then might not be able to resist public accommodation standards aggressively applied to them).

    1. Anonymous

      Even if you accept the obviously false thesis that Jones was banned for his being conservative and not, oh say, active solicitations of violence on these platforms, the Federal Statute regarding public accommodation generally does not ban discrimination based on political affiliation so the application would likely fall under local jurisdictions and very few do. What are they? Seattle and DC? Further, if this is simply a “conservative” thing, why haven’t the umpteen thousand other conservative pundits been banned?

      This is all besides the point, however, as once again, we find armchair legal experts in the dakotawarcollege comments section screwing up legal analysis in the name of feeling victimized. That’s a liberal game.

      1. Troy Jones

        I have no idea what you are saying but suspect you didn’t grasp what I said (which may have been as disjointed as your comment) so I’ll repeat it differently. To be clear, I do not feel victimized. I have no idea to whom that comment was directed.

        Private entities (like the baker) have some flexibility to not accommodate thought, word, action, etc. because they violate strongly held personal values. This flexibility may or may not extend to Google. I have no idea. However, if Google displays too blatant a bias, it makes it more likely Congress/President will regulate and declare them a broad public accommodation. Thus, it is my guess is at least for the time being (and in light of the post-election TGIF “funeral” at Google) they will try to demonstrate they are fair and balanced.

        1. Anonymous

          I do not think you feel victimized. That ire was directed at the anon at 8:49 am. I was not clear on that, and that is my fault.

          As to your posts: you incorrectly asserted that this could fall under public accomodation laws. It does not anywhere save for 3 or 4 cities. You then bring up a “sincerely held belief”, which is weird because that is a sincerely held religious belief and is in no way relevant to the case at hand. Even if Congress declares these social media platforms a public accommodation, it literally does not matter because 42 U.S. Code § 2000a only applies to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin. The cake case related to Colorado’s CADA law which applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation but, again, NOT POLITICAL LEANINGS.

          Again, this argument is completely irrelevant, as Jones clearly, repeatedly violated the rules of the platform.

    2. enquirer

      i think when you know the facts about something like sandyhook, then report your own inciteful incendiary take on things, THEN testify under oath at a custody trial for your kids that you make up stuff all the time as just part of the show, then your speech is on its own slipperly slope.

  6. Troy Jones


    1) There is relevance. If they enforce their rules against Alex Jones but not against liberal entities, it will invite Congressional regulation which could make NEW LAW that defines social media companies a public accommodation with language to make the internet similar to the FCC airwaves where there are restrictions regulating favoritism over one view vs. another. Not sure it will pass SCOTUS or not. No idea. But, I don’t think it is a test these companies want to face.

    2) The reason I bring up sincerely held values (I didn’t say belief as they are not the same thing) is Americans (and by extension Congress) is generally tolerant of actions based on sincerely held values but not that which is capricious, inconsistent, or driven by emotions. This distinction impacts what they choose to regulate.


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