September Eleventh- Perspectives from a Gold Star Mother

| September 11, 2023

On September 11, 2001 at 8:00am CT, I was getting ready for work. As was my habit, the clock radio that woke me an hour earlier was tuned to the local news station so I could catch the traffic and weather, as well as a few headlines. The weather would be good and traffic would be bad. Typical Tuesday morning.

I half heard the station broadcasters excitedly talking about New York and the Twin Towers. I had only been half paying attention, being distracted with the mundane tasks of getting my son ready for school – he was again running late – and making and packing our lunches. I was confused and started to listen harder, initially wondering if they were referring to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Then, I realized this was real time news. I turned on the TV and saw the smoke billowing from the South Tower.

At that moment, the phone rang. My friend was in her car on her way to work, listening to the news and as confused as I had been. As we spoke, as I was trying to describe and make sense of what I was seeing, the North Tower was hit.

This was not an accident. This was on purpose. I screamed, then told her “A passenger jet just crashed into the World Trade Center. Oh my God, we’re at war”.

On that day, standing in my living room, thinking of my eleven-year-old son, of how the world he was about to grow up in had just been irrevocably changed, I cried.

I cried for him, for what he had just lost, for the way of life that was now a memory, for the country that I loved. I cried in fear of what would happen next. Would Chicago be hit? Would there be fighting in the streets of America? Was this going to become the nuclear war we were taught to fear as we hid under our desks in school when I was eleven?

Then, I stopped crying. Whatever was to come would come, and I would fight, kill or die to protect my son. That thought, that resolve comforted me and gave me strength. No matter what, he would get a chance to grow up. My brilliant, beautiful boy, on the cusp of becoming a young man, would grow up. I swore it on my life.

Twenty years later on the anniversary of 9/11, I was standing in front of a monument that didn’t exist on that bright September day. There, on cold black granite were the names of sons and daughters, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters. More than 7,000 of those names were there because of that one, terrible day twenty years before.

My son, my bright, remarkable, challenging, trouble-making, obstinate, loving, messy, forever running late, beautiful boy, the reason for every breath I took, grew up and chose to serve this Nation that was changed that day when he was eleven years old. He swore his own oath, to protect and defend me and this country. There, etched in the granite of the monument that didn’t exist on the bright September day twenty years earlier, was my son’s name.

On that day 20 years after the world was changed, the war that was begun by the destruction of the Twin Towers was over and I was struck by a macabre personal symmetry. He was eleven years old when the first 9/11 started the war, and on that first 9/11 after the war, it had been eleven years since his name was added to those solemn, silent slabs. Perhaps because of the way the war ended, for too many the memory of that horrible, bright September day seemed to have grown dim. But I remembered as I read the names alongside that of my son’s.

On that 20th anniversary, I made a new oath to my son. I swore to fight, kill, or die to protect what I have left of him, his memory. Each year on the anniversary of that day that changed the world, the anniversary of the day that set in motion the events that changed my world, I reaffirm this new oath. My son will continue to be the reason for every breath I take, until my last.

I upheld that first oath. My son grew up. I swear I will keep this oath as well. He, and all the others, will be honored and remembered. So help me God.
Denise Williams

Category: Guest Post, Op-Ed, Terror War

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Everyone should never forget.

Some CAN’T ever forget.


Today, twenty-two years ago:


Don’t forget the people who jumped because it beat being burned alive:


Say Their Names…Be Their Witness…Never Forget!

Something else to never forget…Each one of those names was a real person, with the rest of their life ahead of them…loved ones, hopes, dreams, yet they made the Supreme Sacrifice. Not only do those lost ones deserve to be remembered, the Gold Star Families deserve our unwavering support.

 “The trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,…”




Every time I’m in NY, I reserve a full day (a lot of feelings to process, I’m utterly useless for the rest of that day) to visit ground zero.

I read as many names as I can bear, but never get through them all. Every time, I get through a few more, but there are only so many times I can read “…and her unborn child” before I can bear no more.

Old tanker

I had already retired from the Army Reserves in 2000 when that happened. I called milpercen and asked if I could come back and help out. All I got was laughter and was told that they had enough older 0-5’s already.

I am still pissed off every Sept. 11th. I doubt I will ever stop.


I read my MOSs were critical during Desert Shield- only a few years out, I went to the recruiter. He looked at my DD214 and informed me my reenlistment code didn’t exist, and I would have to get St. Louis to correct it. Wrote them, expressed the urgency of a swift reply: only took 18 months to get a reply.


By 2006 they were bringing O5s out of retirement to be advisors. I ran into two retired O5s I had worked with in the past in 2007 who came off the bench.


Never forget.
Never surrender.
I will not submit.

Milo Mindbender

I was replacing a tractor tire at work with the Neal Boortz show on in the background when he expressed an interest in a small plane having struck one of the WTC. I went upstairs to get a cup of coffee, and saw the second piane strike live on TV. I knew it was a terrorist attack at that point. Contacted my reserve unit and was on stand by as needed. Never deployed because the Army didn’t want Air Force wrenches in their TO&E.


At 7:00 a.m. central time I surfed the network channels, looking for mention of 9-11. NBC, ABC, and CBS had their usual air-head stuff, weather, tennis, earthquake somewhere, anchor marrying her girlfriend, but nothing about 9-11. Finally, after 13 minutes, there was a brief mention. I switched to the cable channels- they covered it. Disgusting, but predictable.


We can’t forget, though sadly it seems that the united America we had 22 years ago is now as divided as it has ever been in our history. On September 10th, 2001, I was a Gonnabe. I had been dealing with the VA National Guard (VAARNG) for a couple of years, being baited along as I needed a waiver. I’d taken my service truck to the shop the previous Friday and used some comp time to take off early for a reenactment. When I arrived at work on Monday, I was called into the Service Manager’s office. He told me that my service truck wasn’t up to company standards and that he was letting me go. At 22 years of age, I was six years younger than any other Road Tech, so I suspect they just needed to find someone to fire, and I was lowest on the totem. The next day, I was multitasking between looking for jobs and the Yahoo Wehrmacht Reenactors Group, when someone posted something about a plane flying into the towers. I figured it was a sick joke, after all, Wehrmacht reenactors have to have some kind of sick humor portraying the “wrong side of history”. Shortly afterward, someone mentioned the second tower being hit. I turned around to find my wife’s mom staring at the TV at footage of planes flying into the WTC. The VAARNG Recruiters were on Defense Supply Center Richmond, which was locked down like every other DOD installation. An Army recruiting station was about a mile away, so I stopped into it. Within a month-and-a-half, I’d DEP’d in and would ship to Benning less than three weeks later. The guy who founded my reenactment group was a cop in New Jersey and watched the smoke from the distance. One person I served with was a Tour Guide in the Pentagon when the plane struck it. Another was a retired NYPD officer turned 88M (truck driver) who’d been in one of the towers after it was hit. The events affected everyone differently, and true heroes like Rick Rescorla and the men… Read more »


Thank you for remembering COL Rescorla. There is an old post on this blog about him, covering his life and career from his time in Britain’s Parachute Resume to his time in Vietnam, serving as a Platoon Leader in 2/7th Cav under Hal Moore during Ia Drang, to that September day 22 years ago that he gave the last full measure of devotion. Right after reading your post, I found this:

Cyril Richard “Rick” Rescorla, COL (Retired), United States Army


Little help? Auto corrupt strikes again. Trying to edit the word “Resume” to “Regiment” and I’m getting the “You’re posting too fast” message when I try to edit.


The reason we are so divided today…

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We were probably in 30th AG together, definitely on The Hill of Sand together.

DEP’ed December 21-ish, shipped 29JAN02, went up the hill 15FEB02.

D 2/54 IN “Mailed Foot!”


Redid the math 1.5(30)+(21) is still November.

What sick twisted soul does a month at Basic, goes on Christmas Exodus, and COMES BACK?!

Hats-off for that sh!t.


I did Basic (OCT 87), 1 week of AIT, exodus and back. Perfect timing.


That feat plus two rockers is enough for me to happily admit you’re composed of stronger stuff than I, Sarge.

Admittedly I go feral quicker than should be allowed for someone in uniform.


Going feral ain’t always a bad thing. The trick is to keep that card in your pocket until it’s absolutely needed. More shock value that way.


I DEP’ed in on 25 October, shipped on the evening of 14 NOV, and arrived at 30th AG around 0200. Went up the hill around 2 December, did Red Phase, then went on Exodus. We had a few who didn’t come back, including a Prior Service Marine who was a Gulf War vet. It was odd seeing his Marine divisional combat patch when everyone else had nothing. From what I recall, we started with 56 in my platoon and ended with around 32. I was C/1-19 but spent a few days “mid-range” in an empty 2-54 barracks.

2-19 now resides in the Albanese Barracks where 2-54 was when we went through. 2-54 had recently moved to the Treadwell Barracks (near Eagle Tower) when I reported as an E/2-54 Drill Sergeant in 2016. Map: Neat Document-Page 4 (

Sand Hill changed a lot but also very little between 2002 and 2018 when I left the Trail. The Troop Store by the gym closed during my second cycle. The 198th Infantry BDE (former ITB) is now located in Bldg. 3215, and there’s the new-ish Moye Complex (not on the map) heading north past the Soldier’s Chapel, which now has a blood donation center next to it.

All of the barracks look the same from the outside, but each one has stand-alone DFACs now, and what used to be open-air breezeways leading to the classrooms and internal DFAC is now all covered and contained nothing but classrooms and a Warrior Athlete Trainer gym. 1-19 moved from Holcomb Barracks, the same ones I’d trained at, so I stopped by the old Charlie Company and it was a time capsule. I’ve got photos somewhere. The breezeways might have been covered, but the Arms Room window, Supply, laundry room, and external stairs were all as I remembered them.


On 9/11 NYC announces pay cut to police and other First Responders due to having to pay to house illegal aliens.


F* dudes in uniform, we have illegal aliens’ *sses to kiss! –Democrats

Mike B

I was at work when it happened, I was an Air Reserve Technician (ART). After the shock wore off we went about packing our mobility bins, as we knew AFSOC was going.

A few days later we went on orders, then on 29 Sept 2001 we received our 1 year Presidential Activation Orders (We would be extended an additional year).

A few weeks later we were in the air heading over, and couple days after landing, setting up shop, getting equipment ready, giving Desert and Combat Survival briefings to my aircrew, hit night arrived…18/19 Oct 2001.

Oct-Dec 2001 Task Force Sword, bringing the vengeance of America to the guilty.

Ended up in Uzbekistan in Apr 2002.


I was just coming off shift at station 7. My wife called me and said a plane had hit the first tower. I went back upstairs, and to shouts of disapproval, turned the TV from Sports center to the news. Then the complaints stopped. I watched until the second plane hit, then drove home, and watched with my wife and son as the towers came down.
4 years earlier, I’d had the opportunity of a lifetime, a job offer from FDNY, something I’d wanted since I was a kid… but with a child on the way, I couldn’t afford the pay cut and didn’t take the job. To say that I felt like I should have been there, and that survivors guilt is real is an understatement.
Every year, this day is a challenge, I just try to be worthy of the memory of those who fell that day.


You were where you were supposed to be that day, in order to do things that needed to be done later. Survivors Remorse is real, but I have come to learn that it’s because there is a need for some of us in another place at another time!

This is an emotional time for a lot of us!


I have no idea why, but somehow it seems harder this year. Maybe I’m just older and more sentimental.


Me too. Maybe it’s because our children are getting older, and they are soon to be taking over the watch.


My job supports the Intel school. I look at all these young trainees, all born after 9/11, and I wonder if they really understand. PV2’s that worked for me in Afghanistan in 2002 have now retired as SFC’s. We were at war most of my career and all of theirs. The whole world changed 22 years ago today, but is that being taught in history classes? Have we really prepared our kids for what’s out there?


I think some of us have done our best! We are fighting the main stream media and the “woke” agenda. It’s a shame, that most of us are on the same side, but a lot of us listen to those who were after dollars. It’s hard to believe, that 22 years have went by so fast. It’s now history Who are younger generation, but seems so close by the calendar. I think if we keep doing, and showing our kids, They will keep pushing it to their peers. I can only hope and pray!


Thanks Blaster, I know you’re right, at least the other 364 days of the year..



Just Damn!

God bless you and keep you! I am a veteran of a (current) combined 36 years, active and NG. One of my sons has all intentions of being a Soldier, “like dad”, Brings a tear to my eye just typing this. She will never be able to be like me, because our Army is not the same. Honestly, I don’t even want him to be a member of this one’s hallowed organization. I don’t know how you even breathe! I cannot even imagine losing a child. My wife and I have one biological child, but we have seven adopted, across 28 years. God bless you for “keeping-on”! I don’t know how you do it! I always felt, and tried to be, one of the tough guys. You kick ass!


He! He! Damn autocorrect!!!!!


A day has passed since that fateful memorial. Can I now make a joke about “she” and the fact that our betters insist that she can now be exactly like you if she only believes strongly enough?


That turned into the most memorable week in my life. I was sitting in the Stan/Eval office in our squadron when the reports of the first plane hit the news. So we went into yje squadron Ops Center and were looking at Headline News. We’d launched our sortie for the day and the Commander was flying on it with a student. The Ops Officer was out of the building.

I noted the clear blue sky and that didn’t sit right I commented how during WWII a B-25 had flown into the Empire State Building around the 80th floor but it had been at night. A minute or so later the talking head told folks about that mishap. I was standing there watching when the feed showed the second aircraft plow into the second tower.

I told a couple folks to go dig out the Threatcon (now FPCON) checklist as we’d soon go to Delta as it was obviously not an accident but an attack. I then opined that it wouldn’t be too long before NORAD implemented SCATANA ( Secure Control Air Traffic and Navigation Aids) Sure enough both things Occurred not to long afterwards.

I talked to my boss a couple hours later when he landed nad he said it He never thought he’d experience something like that but Center and the SEADS broadcast that the “National Airspace is Closed ” Land at the first opportunity.


Then, I stopped crying. Whatever was to come would come, and I would fight, kill or die to protect my son.

And that’s when I started.

A heartfelt salute to you, and to all those that have given so much for this country, their families and friends.

We should remember that without dedicated, brave men and women this would be just some place.

By God, this ain’t just some place. This is America.

I intend to keep the fight on, to Never Forget.

In no way will I be shamed or scorned of it.

Too much has been placed on the pages of history, too many name read aloud for us to forsake oaths now.

See you Patriots out there, or on The Highest Ground.