Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remembering 9/11

Hope: Humanity & Heroism at Madam Tussauds in NYC
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Every year on September 11, I think most Americans take a few minutes to reflect and remember where they were when they heard the news of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. , and the hijacked plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.  I was a father with two young boys, and reporter working at a TV station in West Lafayette, Indiana.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful Tuesday morning in Indiana.  I woke up a little later than usual because it was my day off (I worked weekends at the time).  I turned on the TV, which was already on the CBS Early Show.  Bryant Gumbel was talking about a plane accident in New York City.  The image I saw was the smoking North Tower of the World Trade Center.  The plane was still sticking out, and it looked like a small plane at the time, I had no idea it was a commercial jet.

I had to run to work that day for a meeting about the station's website, so as I got ready for that, Gumbel announced that another plane had hit the South Tower.  Then came reports of an explosion at the Pentagon and I think we all figured out pretty quick that these weren't random accidents.  Our country was under attack.

I hopped in the car and sped to work, listening to the news on CBS Radio.  As I pulled into the station parking lot the South Tower collapsed.  I remember getting goosebumps and feeling overwhelmed and helpless by what was happening.  My meeting was obviously cancelled, and despite trying to stick around and help with the local coverage we would eventually start doing, I was told to go home.

9/11 Memorial Ceremony 9/11/02
Lafayette, Indiana
I did and I stayed glued to the TV all day.  Finally around midnight I had to turn away from the coverage and give myself time to digest everything that was happening.  The world changed that day.  I had two sons under the age of two.  What kind of world would they be growing up in now?

In the weeks and months after the attacks, patriotism was at an all time high.  Our small community held candle vigils and prayer services.  My boys laid red, white, and blue carnations on a piece of steel from the World Trade Center on the one  year anniversary.

9/11 Memorial in Lafayette, Indiana
Members of the Lafayette community lost loved ones that day.  So now, there is also a statue that stands in downtown Lafayette.  It's a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by so many and the thousands of innocent lives lost on that fateful day.

In the Spring of 2013, I had an opportunity to visit New York City.   I was eager to visit the 9/11 Memorial.  At the time of my visit, work was still being done, but we were able to walk around outside the museum see the reflecting pools in the footprint of where the Towers once stood.  The names of the victims are etched on the outside walls of the pools, with water continuously flowing.  It's a somber reminder of the lives lost not just on 9/11, but also during the attack in 1993.

One of the Reflecting Pools at Ground Zero
New York City
You may notice one of the names engraved on that wall, Christian Michael Otto Regenhard.  I did a little searching and found that he was a firefighter responding to the call of duty on 9/11.  He graduated from the Fire Academy just weeks before the attacks.  He was also a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.  He was just 28 years old when he died, we were the same age.

Thank you Christian Michael Otto Regenhard for your service to our country and for giving the ultimate sacrifice.  God bless everyone who died on 9/11.

You can learn more about Sgt. Regenhard by clicking this link.

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