Like most people who were adults at the time, I have a very clear recollection of that day. It was a perfect September morning. We had gotten our kids off to school. My girls were in first grade and my son was in fifth. I had to stop by my office before heading to North Carolina to take an expert’s deposition. My client was also planning to attend. He was flying in from Norfolk.
As I got into the elevator to leave my office, someone mentioned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was an accident. Sad, perhaps tragic, but it didn’t cross my mind that it was an attack.
South of Petersburg, I turned on the radio. Reports of the second plane were all over the place. This was clearly no accident.
Concluding that my deposition might not take place and that I might want to get home, I stopped at the Nottoway Restaurant. There, on an old black and white TV which the restaurant pulled out, I stood with other customers and watched the collapse of one of the buildings.
The deposition was cancelled. Planes were grounded. I went back to Richmond.
While many of us have a very explicit memory of the events, what I think has been forgotten was the incredible uncertainty of the rest of that day and the days that followed. What might happen next was a genuine concern,
The attack 20 years ago was a reminder that the world is a dangerous place. Frankly, it always has been and, realistically, it always will be. By virtue of geography, our nation has always been somewhat insulated from outside threats. We don’t think about the sorts of hazards and risks which in most parts of the world are much more common. Twenty years ago, those assumptions of security came into serious question.
Much has happened in the two decades since the attack – far more than I care to address in this post. What concerns me is that we have collectively lapsed back into complacency. The world is still a dangerous place and, it many respects, it is likely a more dangerous one than it was at the start of that beautiful September morning.
History teaches us that complacency is risky. Avoidance of bad actors on the international stage tends to bite those who just want problems to go away. When it all hits the fan, it’s our service members who bear the brunt. They are the ones we expect to make sacrifices for us – sacrifices which literally include life and limb.
Our law practice has a long history of representing veterans and military families, including many who served in the conflicts of the last twenty years. These people are at the core of what we do.
Let’s hope we remain vigilant. Let’s hope we keep our eyes open. We don’t need any needless sacrifices by those sworn to protect us.