Remembering The Lessons Of September 11

17 years ago today, I was working for the Department of Defense Education Activity, assigned to the Ft. Knox installation schools. My primary duties were as a curriculum and staff development specialist. College prep programs set me up well for the tasks that were expected in that role. I was also the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer for the post school system. That was the hat I wore on this day in 2001, and for the next couple of weeks. The Gold Repository at Ft. Knox was a target of an airliner, fortunately all flights were grounded before it could be hit. Neither college prep programs nor subsequent trainings with law enforcement, etc. could adequately prepare me for the challenges of that day, and the days that followed. We were surrounded by the best trained professional soldiers in the world. We knew we were secure. But we were not safe. We can practice for all kinds of crisis situations, but until we are forced to deal with the very real and human emotions of an actual event, the practice is just like another fire drill. We have a false sense of security that we can handle whatever is happening, but it is just that, a false sense of security. In schools, we deal with people. But we practice dealing with situations. We can’t practice looking into the eyes of our people during and after the event and assuring them that they are safe. Not just that they are safe today, but that they will also be safe tomorrow. Many decisions were made that day that I never imagined I would be a part of, reacting to events that none of us could have anticipated. I was very proud of the team I was part of that day, great people who didn’t do what they could that day, we did what what we had to be done. Wish I could forget some of what I learned that day. I pray that I never have to put that learning into practice again.

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