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Remembering 9/11

I remember exactly where I was when the 9/11 attacks occurred 20 years ago. One of my Woods Cove neighbors called to tell me something horrific was happening in New York City, which was where my 21-year-old son was attending college, and that I needed to turn on the TV. After watching a plane crash into the second World Trade Center Tower, I quietly told my wife and two young children there would be no work or school that day.

I tried calling my son several times in NYC but couldn’t get through to him. That night, as I watched the news, endless waves of bewilderment and grief kept rushing over me. How could this have happened? What does this mean for America? And where is my boy? Finally, around 9 p.m. our time, my son called. He was safe but shaken. His entire neighborhood had been evacuated after the second World Trade Center Tower crumbled to the ground.

Looking back over my lifetime, some events or dates are seared into my memory. The Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, comes to mind first. That was followed by President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show ten weeks later on February 9, 1964.

Next were President Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin speech on August 7, 1964, the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, Apollo 11 landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, and the first Vietnam-era draft lottery held on December 1, 1969 (which I “won”). I also remember being glued to the TV the night Richard Nixon announced he would resign the presidency on August 8, 1974, and when Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. Clearly, each one of these events will be remembered 100 years from now; but I dare say none of them compares to the long-term impact 9/11 will have on America.

Following our recent retreat from Afghanistan, some people worry there will be another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I have no way of knowing if this will happen or not, but I do know this: Just as I worried about my children 20 years ago, I worry about them today. I wonder which days or events they will remember on the 40th anniversary of 9/11?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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