This is a reprint from 2005 with new links added at the bottom.
On September 11th, 2001 my son was at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) for his specialty as a Combat Medic. A month later, he was heading home for leave prior to his first duty assignment with the 1st Cavalry Division. We made arrangements to meet in NYC where we would spend the night before taking a plane home the next morning. I told him that he would soon be going to war and I wanted him to see what it was he would be fighting for. We would visit "Ground Zero", the site of the World Trade Center attack. We ate in Times Square and when we were done, we headed for the subway station to take the train downtown. On the way, we found a statue that was to be delivered to a fire station, abandoned for the time being in the street. It had been turned into a shrine; the first of many we would encounter on our trip into the heart of darkness.
We made our way downtown and got off the train close to wall street. The smell that hit us upon exiting the subway station was something I had never experienced before. The closest I could come to describing it was being stuck in a classroom after a thousand erasers had been clapped, a metaphor that many probably are not even be able to relate to. It was the smell of vaporized concrete. Businessmen in suits, who we saw leaving work, were wearing surgical masks when they left their buildings. We proceeded west towrds Church St but we couldn't get that far; the area was cordoned off at Broadway. The smoking pit and ruined buildings that was the World Trade Center site was still apparant.
As we walked down Broadway we saw that the walls of the buildings lining the cordoned-off areas had become both shrines and desperate announcements for information about people missing since the attack. My youngest daughter added her thoughts to the wall.
And there were debates
The trip back to the hotel was somber. I could see my son thinking. The only word I heard him say while we were at the site was "Bastards". Today he serves in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division. And while he's not sure about the people of Iraq, he is sure of two things: the Islamic-fascists who perpetrated the attacks on 9-11 are in Iraq and what he and his brothers and sisters in the military are doing what they are doing both for us at home and the children of Iraq
Remember that day and those we lost here.
Blackhawk reprints the poem The Day We Became One People.