On this date for the past twenty-two years, most adult Americans recall the horror of watching commercial airplanes crash into the World Trade Center and the subsequent collapse of those towers, killing almost three thousand people.
Personally, I recall cars driving on sidewalks. While my office in Downtown Alexandria was in sight of the Pentagon, I didn’t see the plane crash into it. Of course, my staff rushed it and alerted me. I could see the smoke billowing from the Pentagon, as the wind blew it towards my wife’s office building, where they later dreamed they had been “breathing dead bodies.”
Since nobody knew if any more planes were headed to Washington, workers streamed out of their offices. As they found their cars and started home, gridlock happened almost immediately. In minutes, anxious, fearful drivers quickly took to the sidewalks, dodging pedestrians, parking meters, and occasional trees. The terror was palpable.
I’m glad Osama bin Laden was killed, although I would have relished pulling the trigger myself. Yet, his death does not compensate for the thousand of deaths at the World Trade Center or Pentagon or Afghanistan or the damage done to their families. Some debts are never paid.