I can remember that bright blue sky and early sunshine like it was only yesterday. It could not have been a more beautiful late summer morning. As I started the workweek, Imus in the morning was on the radio; the first report on the show was that a small aircraft had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. My first thought knowing the lay of the lower Manhattan land – how could that happen on such a clear morning?
It would soon become the day that would forever change our Great Country. The safety and isolation from the problems of the World we felt here at home lost in a New York City second. The protection of our homeland borders erased by evil. It's still very difficult to comprehend and I have caught myself in moments of disbelief – did that really happen or was it just a bad dream? It's hard to believe 15 years have gone by since our Nation’s second day of infamy.
At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. America was under attack by a borderless enemy. The words Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Islamic extremists, jihad and terrorism were about to become commonplace in America. Nineteen Islamic terrorists using four planes full of innocent people would soon bring more evil and insecurity to our homeland then could ever be imagined.
Shortly after 9 a.m. United Flight 175 sliced through the South Tower of the World Trade Center. I'm sure as you're reading this, visions of this cowardly act burn within your memory. This ends any speculation the first attack was an accident or would be the only attack of the day.
Some of the most horrific visions stuck in my mind are those of innocent people who were just going to work on a peaceful September morning now jumping to their death because the Hell they were trapped in was much worse.
As the World Trade Centers burned and the world watched, the Pentagon became the next target. American Airlines Flight 77 is used as a missile into the Washington, D.C. morning. Remember the fear as you thought, “What is next? Our Nation is under attack!”
We should've saw the next event coming, but like the Titanic no one thought the World Trade Centers would go down. At 9:59, with every news camera locked on it, the South Tower collapsed. The evil terror of the day just reached a much more sinister level. How many lives were just lost before my eyes, as the building seemed to collapse floor by floor into a cloud of dust and smoke that covered Manhattan.
The Islamic extremists got more than they bargained for on board American Airlines Flight 93. Americans fought back! The war on terror begins. The words of Todd Beamer forever heard in a most patriotic way, "Are you guys ready? Let's roll!" Pennsylvania soil is now the crash site of a plane intended to bring terror to the White House, the Capital Building, or who knows where is our Nation’s Capital.
At 10:28 a.m. the North Tower went down in almost demolition like precision. A cloud of dust and debris again descending across America. Seemingly covering from Manhattan to the Pacific coast.
In an hour and 42 minutes almost 3,000 lives were lost to Islamic terrorism. The fallen include 343 New York City firefighters who gave their lives trying to save as many folks as they could. Twenty-three NYPD police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers who also went to help fellow Americans on the worst day in American history.
Countless injuries, countless mental anguish and circumstances brought to so many innocent and the death from that deadly cloud of smoke and dust lingering long after the attack. We will never know the true toll 9/11 took on our Great Nation. I don’t even want to talk about the financial numbers. They just do not seem to matter in regards to what this day and event is about.
These heinous images, memories and yes all the video footage need to burn in our American hearts and minds forever. We can never underestimate what evil can be brought by Islamic extremism. We need to understand you cannot reason, negotiate or tolerate this form of evil. They know only one thing – they want you and I dead and our way of life ended.
Our Nation must stay on the cutting edge of world intelligence, military strength and eradicate all known Islamic fundamental terrorists. It does not matter whether it's a lone wolf, 19 organized jihadists of Al Qaeda or ISIS.
Is it the only way to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for our children, our children’s children and the United States of America.
God Bless and Protect America.
A golfer’s clap for former County Commish Ernie Larson. I’ve known Ernie most of my life. See, he lived just a couple doors down on Kane Street when I was growing up. His big golden retriever named Troncha would retrieve my Penn State hat with the big blue ball off the top of my head as I passed his house on the way to or from school. Thanks Troncha, my Mom made me wear that hat and he did me a favor.
Mr. Larson retired after being a union bricklayer for over four decades. He served as a Lycoming County Commissioner for a dozen years. He was coach of the Mounties golf team for 12 seasons. Ernie was also a long time member of the South Williamsport Lions Club.
Ernie bleeds South Side Blue and White and can be found at many Mountie sporting events. He has been a big supporter of area teams and athletes and doesn’t miss too many big games or playoff contests of schools around the county. He enjoys sports and getting out and about. Crosscutters, Lycoming, Nittany Lions, he enjoys them all.
He loves the game of golf. I refer to him as the Mayor of White Deer. He recently competed in his 40th Williamsport Invitational Tournament. His motto is, ‘any day spent on the golf course is a good day.’
Mr. Larson and Jeff Deisher came up with the idea to have a tournament to find the best golfer in Lycoming County each year. Ernie has been spending much time with the organization of the 1st Lycoming County Amateur Championship. I tip my cap to him and all involved for their efforts.
On the weekend of September 16th through the 18th the event will take place for any amateur golfer who calls Lycoming County home. Friday and Sunday’s rounds will be played at White Deer, Saturday at the Williamsport Country Club. It sounds like a great event in the making.
Ernie and wife Nancy have been married for 29 years. Between them, they have four children and two grandchildren. Ernie loves our area and the folks he served while a County Commissioner. He has a great heart and is always looking for ways to make local life better. Thanks neighbor!