Tag Archives: 9/11

Where Were You on 9/11?

My father and I on a visit to NYC, circa 1994.
My father and I on a visit to NYC, circa 1994.

The morning of September 11, 2001 stays in my memory for many reasons. Almost a year before the terrorist attacks on that day, my brother was killed in another terrorist attack. Cherone Gunn was one of 17 sailors killed in the bombing of the USS Cole on October 12, 2000. That was a day that was incredibly hard to believe. My brother was my best friend, confidant, definitely someone to look up to for anyone. He wanted to serve his country proud by enlisting in the Navy. As hard as the day he died was, the following year was just as trying. Funerals, investigations, etc. We learned that responsible was Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network al Qaeda. There was a transition in our own government going on at that time as well, as President Clinton was leaving office and George Bush was taking over. This was one reason why my family believed that the investigation into who was responsible for the death of our son and brother was stalled at best. This was a feeling that did not sit well with us or any of the other victims’ family members. From the start of the year in 2001 we began to think that nothing was going to be done for justice of our victims and that the terror attack would soon be forgotten. My mother even commented several times throughout the year, something needs to be done now before those who got away with this will strike again. Unfortunately, they did strike again.

September 11, 2001 I was at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Va. It was early in the 8am hour. The teacher was a little delayed to come in and us students were getting a bit anxious. She finally came and told us that there was something going on in New York, that one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center was on fire. We had a television set in the classroom that we were able to tune to a local television station to watch the live news feed of what was going on. Commentary said that it was some type of explosion at first, but then information unfolded that said perhaps a plane may have struck the tower. Everyone in the class had their theories on how or why, but it didn’t take long for me to figure it out. It didn’t take long for any of us to figure out when the second plane hit the other tower. Prior to that, I thought how could a plane get so lost and out of all places it crashed into the tower? It seemed a bit farfetched. Everyone thought that if it was a plane that crashed into the building then it had to have been a small Cessna type plane. But when we saw the images of the second airliner flying into the building, our worst fears were confirmed. Everyone knew our country was under attack.

Just like the rest of the country I was struck with grief and emotion. My feelings were significantly compounded by my very own situation. After several minutes of watching in horror in the classroom, talking with other classmates of what was going on, I couldn’t take it anymore. I left and went out to the parking lot to get some air. Another classmate of mine came down to check on me. I told him of my past and how I felt the pain of thousands of victims of terror that day from my previous experience of terror. I than realized my other responsibilities of that day. I knew my parents and brother were in the Hampton Roads area as well. With my father being a former sailor, I felt I needed to reach out to him. With two planes already down into buildings in New York and another report of another two planes that crashed in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. into the Pentagon, I genuinely believed that terrorist were taking planes and crashing them at targets, going down the east coast. An obvious next target has to be the largest military base in the world, Norfolk Naval Base. I was hoping that neither my mother or father were at the base that day. Cell phone lines were dead pretty much that whole day. It was very hard to contact anyone as all lines were jam packed and busy from thousands or possibly millions of telephone calls to loved ones all over the place that morning. I just had to sit and wait to make sure my family was safe.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, our family learned of other related incidents. One of the lead investigators for the FBI, John O’Neill, was in charge of the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole. Even before the Cole and the months following, Mr. O’Neill and his team gathered much information about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He knew what they were capable of and what they would do. Mr. O’Neill was in constant and consistent contact with my father and our family as we were uniquely invested in the FBI’s investigation. But as previously mentioned, Mr. O’Neill and his investigation into al Qaeda was forced to take a backseat. Political? Who knows, but whatever it was, it pushed Mr. O’Neill out of the FBI and into retirement. A frustrated John O’Neill, who thought just as my mother, “if we don’t do something now, the next and immanent attack will be worst,” took a fateful job that summer as head of security at the World Trade Center. An assignment that would be his last. John P. O’Neill was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Mr. O’Neill’s legacy can be seen in documentaries and films. Feel free to read a letter he addressed to my father from PBS’s Frontline website.  Another legacy that was left was what we remember in the wake of the attack. One month and one day after 9/11 was the one year anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole. My family and I would go to visit my brother who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington, being one of the more exclusive places for a final resting place, had dozens of funerals going on that day. The bulk, if not all of them were for those who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. On that day and months following, the once beautiful view of the Washington, D.C. skyline from Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington National Cemetery, was marred as the first thing within eyesight was the burnt, gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon.

Not for nothin’, but please take the time to remember all of our victims of terror. Remember the thousands of victims from the World Trade Center. Remember the hundreds of our service men and woman, who served our country and died in the Pentagon that day. Remember those on the frontline of terror in the four hijacked planes. And remember the USS Cole.

USS Cole and 9/11 Families Together

Obama brings together USS Cole and 9/11 families for first time
Obama brings together USS Cole and 9/11 families for first time

Several years after the two most high profile and recent terrorist attacks against the United States, family members of the victims lost were able to meet with a president to voice their concerns over how justice is being carried out.  Friday, President Barack Obama met with families of the victims of the bombing on the USS Cole and the terrorist attacks on September 11.  It was more or less an impromptu meeting with the president that he called in response to the charges of one suspect being held in Guantanamo Bay being dropped, and the proceedings of the trials taking place in Guantanamo Bay.

According to a few different Obama’s aides, this is “something he really wanted to do,” and is the first such meeting with any president of the past three administrations that the victims of the USS Cole have had, and the first time some victim’s family members from 9/11 met with a president.  The meeting, which was held in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Building adjacent to the White House, lasted about an hour and was longer than what was initially intended.  President Obama first shook hands with the close to 50 people in attendance, and then said his peace promising swift justice for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay prisons, which he intends on closing.  He then took over a dozen questions from the families.  Many came out feeling satisfied, but still look to the future for further answers.  This process is one that Obama will hold dearly in the next few years, as he told the families that “this is just the start of our dialogue.”

Information was made public Thursday that the government was to drop the charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay who admitted to masterminding the plot on the USS Cole.  Al-Nashiri has been in U.S. custody since the 2002, but his arraignment was scheduled to get underway this week.  This is the type of delayed judicial process of Military commissions in Guantanamo Bay is part of the reason why Obama’s seeking to shut it down.  Another reason is the image Guantanamo Bay has portrayed around the world, which the president related public perception to that of Abu Grab.  The military trials there are flawed he said, and all of the previous reasons add up to why he wishes to put the “pause” on the proceedings there. 

Not for nothin’, but on the surface it may appear that things would be going south with charges being dropped and Guantanamo Bay closing, but it is important to look past the headlines.  Terror suspects that are captured are not going free unless they are innocent.  If there will not be a Guantanamo Bay then there’ll be another location where terrorist will be held.  If they are dropping charges, then it’s done for a valid reason, whether to ensure a legal trial or to keep human rights advocates off the case or to prevent double jeopardy from happening.  What we can all take away from this is that, it is the start of a new relationship. 


Eight Long Years

Eight years ago, October 12, 2000 a United States battleship was attacked.  Seventeen sailors died and over three dozen more were injured.  This attack, orchestrated by the terrorist group al Qaeda, was a precursor to the terror attacks that happened on September 11, as it was only 11 months later when al Qaeda struck again. 


What you will see below is something specifically written for one by one, but can easily be interpreted for any of those who have recently lost a loved one in the current military operations our country is taking part in.  Just as it’s titled Eight Long Years the number is replaceable, for any amount of time is long enough.


Not for nothin’, but Emily Dickinson wrote it best, “Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell”


Eight Long Years

Jason Gunn



It’s been eight long years, and I wonder is there any change

I still feel much of the same heartache, struggle, and pain

It’s hard to explain to people what it means and how I feel

You can’t tell it to those who don’t know, but it’s real

We used to talk, laugh, joke through the years

Now those days seem to have faded away with the tears

I thought you’d be here forever, no one should leave that early

But now you live on in dreams and feelings I hold so dearly

Will never get to embrace you or talk to you again

Maybe God has a plan that we’ve already been placed in

Well he couldn’t have planned for you to go out like that

Snuffed out by people of another God, one you never met

This has got me wondering why all the good guys die

Why families gotta suffer, and why mothers gotta cry

Why politicians gotta lie cause they don’t wanna avenge this

Tell your people you love them, because it could be hit or miss

The boys were right, you can’t say bye to what we had

You can only take this time to look back and be glad

Hold on to those thoughts and memories of the past

It’s been eight long years, maybe this year will be better than the last.












Remembering Victims on Patriot Day

Anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001
Anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001

September 11 has come around this year, and it’s time to remember the victims of the tragic events that took place seven years ago on this day, which each anniversary has become to be known as Patriot Day.  There are several ways people can show tribute or pay their respects.  People remember where they were on that day, tell stories, visit memorials, have a moment of silence, salute, etc.

Many things are to be expected at a time like this.  Both presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, will be making an appearance together in New York City at the former site of the World Trade Center.  Band members play at commemoration ceremonies attended by the President.  But there are still other things that we have to wonder about. 

New polls on this day show that concerns of another terrorist are at its lowest level since September 11, 2001.  Well, that would make since, maybe time does heal all wounds.  Only 30 percent of Americans feel that a terrorist attack is imminent over the next several week.  One may think that’s high, but that’s actually relatively low in comparison, there’s been a more and more of a decline in recent years.  But on the other hand, what has risen over the past year is the belief of Americans that Osama bin Laden will be captured.  That’s about half of America. 

Looking outside of the anniversary of the day, let’s look back at the day and the mastermind who headed up the operation.  Several terrorist got together in airplanes, hijacked them, and crashed them in various places on the east coast.  The responsible party was almost immediately figured out.  But seven years later he still remains free.  There are some that believe he’s dead, but there’s no evidence to suggest that.  But rest assure, if it isn’t him, then someone in their hierarchy still still watching, waiting and/or planning another attack.  To religious extremist, their job isn’t done until their mission is complete, and apparently the United States of America stands in their way of getting what they want. 

Not for nothin’, but I feel bad for the victims of the terror attacks.  Osama bin Laden is number one on the FBI most wanted list for killing thousands of Americans.  He is the face of a criminal organization that RICO laws, which work so well for most criminal organizations, but will not work to take him down.  That should be the more important story today.  And to the victims, it must be incredibly hard to stomach that you’ve lost someone so close to you in such a vicious, heinous, and infamous event, and the person held responsible has not been captured, killed or brought to justice.  It sucks, it’s infuriating, it’s gut-wrenching, it’s everything that you’d never imagine in a million years.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, I don’t know how you deal with it…but then again, I do.