Thirteen years ago, American Airlines Flight 77 followed Columbia Pike in Arlington and accelerated as it descended, clipping a rooftop antenna at the Sheraton Hotel, zooming over a portion of the National Cemetery, skimming just above traffic on Interstate 395 and knocking over street lamp posts before slamming into the west side of the Pentagon. Firefighters and police at the Pentagon later draped a massive U.S. flag over the impact site. Crews there and at the World Trade Center would transition from rescue to recovery in the coming days.
Flight 77 was on its way to Los Angeles International Airport, where I lived at the time. The flight’s final trajectory followed sites that I would call my places of home and work just a few years later. So the thought of ever forgetting 9/11 seems impossible until l I think about my nephew and niece, who were just 4 and 2 at the time – too young to remember (or be exposed to) such acts of evil at a tender age, now old enough to understand that 3,000 people were killed that day and things in America changed forever.
For as long as I live, I’ll never forget that evil can cross borders, vast lands and oceans if left unchecked … that it’s better to fight them over there, than it is here … and that we always need to be prepared to play an “away” game against evil – and most Americans prefer it that way.
So I toyed with bagpipes and “Amazing Grace” for this anniversary, but opted for The Boss. When it comes to striking the right balance between remembering and moving on with our lives, he’s a genius.