2006-09-15 / Columnists

From The Right

Remembering September 11th: Five Years Later
By Eric Ulrich


We all remember where we were on that fateful day. The attacks began with the hijacking of four commercial airliners bound for California. With jet fuel capacities of nearly 24,000 U.S. gallons, each plane was transformed into a deadly missile. The unthinkable became a scary reality and in just a few hours, our lives would be changed forever.

The fatalities were in the thousands, with 2,973 people killed, including 246 on the four planes, 2,602 in the twin towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. Among the fatalities were 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers. Many of whom were Rockaway residents. Also, 24 people remain listed as missing in the attack on the World Trade Center to this day.

In addition to the World Trade Center itself, five other buildings at the World Trade Center site, including 7 World Trade Center, the Marriott Hotel, and four New York City Subway stations were destroyed or badly damaged. In total, on Manhattan Island, 25 buildings were damaged and all seven buildings of the World Trade Center Complex had to be razed.

Later, an eighth building, the Deutsche Bank building across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex had to be demolished due to the uninhabitable, toxic conditions inside the office tower.

Who could forget those vivid images all over the television? Some of the hardest to watch was the estimated 200 people who leapt to their deaths rather than stand the intense heat or toxic smoke from the burning buildings. These "jumpers" were depicted with vivid detail on almost every major news outlet.

Indeed, September 11, 2001 proved to be one of our nation's darkest hours. However, let us not forget that out of the rubble emerged proven leaders and heroes alike. Prior to the terrorist attacks, many New Yorkers took for granted the bravery of our police men and women and the courage of our firefighters. Since then, we remember that while thousands were fleeing the burning towers, hundreds of heroes were rushing to their deaths in order to save the lives of people they never met. 9/11 reminded us that these first responders risk their lives everyday so that you and I might live in freedom and safety. On that day, Rudy Giuliani became America's mayor. He helped the city heal its wounds and brought us into the light of a new day.

Let us not forget that as we speak, in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, our men and women in uniform are defending our way of life and fighting a war on foreign soil to prevent another September 11 style attack. What America learned, and what many forget, is that we can no longer be on the defensive and wait for the terrorists to come on our shores to kill innocent civilians. Instead, we must root out the fanatics where they are and bring justice to those who died just five years ago this week.

It has been said that we are fighting an enemy like no other. This is not World War II and this certainly is not Vietnam. The enemy we face comes from not one country but many. For some, this war is exhausting and is straining our resources. For those who remember September 11, this war is one that we did not start but nevertheless, we must fight.

Although the fire at ground zero no longer burns, we must never forget those who lost their lives on that day. Let's honor their memory by giving our children a country that is free from terrorism and free from fear. Remember to support our troops fulfilling that mission by keeping them in your prayers and flying our flag!

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