Looking back at 9/11/2001 twenty years later

By Mike Mastrangelo, Former Commander Katy VFW Post 9182
Posted 9/11/21

September 11, 2001, was a pleasant day on the East Coast. The weather was perfect. My wife and I were preparing to host the wedding of our youngest daughter in just four days. Over 150 guests were …

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Looking back at 9/11/2001 twenty years later


September 11, 2001, was a pleasant day on the East Coast. The weather was perfect. My wife and I were preparing to host the wedding of our youngest daughter in just four days. Over 150 guests were expected with the first of those guests arriving later that day. As we talked over coffee about what chores needed to be done, the serene anticipation of the day was shattered as we learned that the United States was brutally attacked by Islamic terrorists, resulting in the deaths of just under 3,000 Americans. In the subsequent years, thousands more would perish from the conflict that followed.

For me, a proud former resident of the New York City area, then residing in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., the attack was too close and horrific to be minimized or forgotten. I will never forget the images of our citizens covered in ash as they wandered near Wall Street dazed and frightened; nor the first pictures of the Pentagon burning and noting people running to help wounded comrades. I can only imagine the horror of a planeload of citizens marshaling the strength to fight back hijackers resulting in their own deaths in a Pennsylvania field.

The story of 9/11 should be a source of pride, as we recount the brave and innocent people that perished that day. To those angels of mercy who risked all to help those in need that morning. To those guardians of the gates of freedom who have gone overseas time and time again to confront the monsters that waged war on our civilization. To the survivors who stoically live out each day deprived of the company of their loved ones who did not come home.

9/11 should inspire all of us. Every school child should know about the courage, the love of fellow man, and the dedication that swept the country that day. We said repeatedly, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”

But I submit, our people have forgotten 9/11.  

The story of 9/11 should be a clarion call to awaken us to what is at stake today. Yet the wave of anti-patriotic sentiment on the part of celebrities, athletes, and even elected officials, has resulted in a huge negative effect among us. The racial hatred spewed is dividing us and creating a tribal mindset that threatens our future as a nation. Scam artists posing as social justice warriors are poisoning the minds of our young and calls into question their willingness to fight for their country if and when their D-Day comes.

Ask yourself, why would any person who has been so indoctrinated since school age to believe this country is so awful be willing to fight and sacrifice for it.

The legacy of decency and sacrifice that has always inspired us, and witnessed at the Kabul airport the week before last, cannot be held hostage to hate mongers. We must stop cowering for fear of being labeled, canceled, or ostracized.  Patriotism gave us the will and the focus to overcome the shock of 9/11.

A deep-seated belief that the United States is special and perhaps the greatest human experiment of government through the ages, grew after the attacks. Two days later, you could not find a store that had an American flag in stock. Everyone wanted to fly the flag. Today, that symbol of our national character is often dragged through the mud in displays of stomach-turning disrespect. Sadly, we seemed to have lost our way, as we cheer a person who openly mocks the very symbols of the nation. Then we are shocked when a young lady, an Olympic champion from Katy, reminds us what an honor it is to represent the U.S. on a global stage.  

Looking at the flag-draped coffins of the 13 service members killed at the Kabul airport in late August, it all comes back to why it is so special to live in this country. Know that the spirit of sacrifice and love that kept this country together still exists with us today. Further, we still have a commitment to make this nation better for our next generation. A true reading of our history will demonstrate that we have moved in a positive direction of “that more perfect union” spoken at our founding.

My fellow citizens let me end by saying that this anniversary is bittersweet. There are many strong emotions at play now. But within my core, I believe that we were tested before, and likely will be again. Yet if we remember what we have in common and how far we have come, we will overcome those challenges. In so doing, those who have worn the uniform will never cease to tell the majestic story of this country and its people.  

September 11, 2001, Mike Mastrangelo