In September of 2001, I watched two towers crumble and thought about the hate someone must live with in order to attack and murder the innocent.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

My day started the same as it always had. Life changing events often happen that way. A fast food breakfast, a paper in hand, a smile at a stranger. Then, through a door, to an office, where someone flicks on the television and the World Trade Center towers have been replaced by two billowing pillars of black smoke.

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words.

I never thought it would have come to this. Terrorism happens in Israel where Muslim extremists strap themselves to explosives and walk happily into a crowded mall or town square. It happens in Ireland, where the IRA has bombed pubs and subway stations. It even happens overhead in the air where terrorists hijack passenger planes and start making demands. By God, innocents will die, they say, and before Sept. 11, we listened and watched and hoped for a quick and decisive resolution, hopefully on the side of good.

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In this case, we did not listen. Or we did not hear.

It was coming. It had been coming for a long time. In much the same way that New Orleans' officials and its citizens expected their city to avoid a major hurricane forever, Americans thought invincibility was our birthright. Terrorism never happened here. We had the best paid this and the best paid that and the people we elected to take care of us, would take care of us.

How na¨ve we were to believe that.

Images tell the tragic story. Twin planes crashing into our tallest skyscrapers. People, hand-in-hand, leaping from a burning building, killed because they came to work. The finality of the towers crumbling, clouds of smoke and debris chasing frightened men and women through canyons of steel, glass and stone.

The longest day in modern American history.

I hope to visit that site one day, the site where thousands of my fellow Americans died. I hope to take my son. I want to point to the sky and describe the planes and the people on board and the three strikes delivered against America that day. I want him to see this.

Because I never want it to be forgotten.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 334-383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at