Things Changed After 9/11

The aftermath of 9/11 is still being felt today, 11 years later. (Larry Bruce/

Things have changed in the last 11 years. In some ways I can’t put my finger on all the changes, but I feel the change, as do most Americans.

Exactly 11 years ago today, we watched as the Twin Towers came tumbling down at the hands of religious fanatics flying airplanes. For many of us the memories of that clear morning will never go away.

We remember when we see an airplane rocket across the sky; feel them when we actually step into an airport and mourn them consistently, even if there are times when we aren’t aware 9/11 is somewhere at the core of our emotions.

Today is a somber day, like all 9/11s for generations to come.  It changed us. Even though we are moving on, things have changed forever because of what took place that morning.

Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. I didn’t know any of them. But I know of their sacrifice. I’ve since met some of their families: A wife, whose husband is noted as saying “Let’s roll,” on United Airlines Flight 93 and saved countless other lives by sacrificing his. A father who can’t heal, because in his mind, even though Bin Laden is dead, the reverberations of that day will never go away.

I have friends who are sad and angry and downright mad at the mention of 9/11. They, like many, don’t want to think about an anniversary of a day that lives with them every day, even now.

We all feel that. We discuss it still around a fire at deer camp or in a duck blind. It’s always there, even if now it comes in the form of lost friends or wounded family from a war in Iraq and another in Afghanistan and always keeping an eye on the one here at home.

There are several ways I define myself. Like most they start along family lines with me being a husband and a father.

They start filtering down from there to a hunter, angler and a deputy sheriff.

The last is new to my life in the last five years. Maybe I did it because of 9/11, maybe it is a middle-age crisis thing or whatever, but I went through the training to become a sheriff a few years ago and now donate my time to the county I live in as a patrol officer. It’s been one of the most humbling things in my life.

The first responders on 9/11 are just many of the heralded heroes. First responders continue to rush in where others won’t in hopes of saving lives; with full knowledge they could lose theirs.

A common Bible verse for first responders: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.

So while I often mourn 9/11, I also find some solace in being reminded just how great this country is from the actions of that day.

Men and women, first responders and regular civilians gave their lives so others could live and enjoy the freedoms we have. If you are reading this column then chances are those freedoms revolve around the passion for chasing a deer or calling a turkey or a duck.

In a few weeks many of us will don our camouflage, scratch our backs against a tree and wait for a buck to come close enough. In that action we will create a sense of excitement, despair or just relaxation depending on how the day progresses. However it happens, enjoy it.

There are those who will not have that opportunity ever again. Today, 9/11, is a somber day, a day when we should add prayers for those who have lost and those who were lost.

And when you do go outdoors, whether to hunt or fish, take a moment to appreciate it. We owe that appreciation to those who can’t join us.

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