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By Robert Gehr

September 11, 2016 (El Cajon) -- After attending this year’s emotionally moving 9/11 remembrance ceremony in El Cajon at Centennial Plaza, I decided to share a few thoughts, facts and photos to awaken memories in all of us so we never forget.

9/11, Twin Towers, World Trade Center, Pentagon, Pennsylvania: these are words that are sure to evoke sad emotions combined with vivid, dark memories.

Even though it’s now been 15 years since the multiple tragic events took place - these blatantly bold attacks on America by al Qaeda--we have not forgotten, and likely never will.

Over 3,00 lives were lost (nearly 10,000 injured), including 400 police officers and firefighters on that fateful day, which began at 8:45 a.m. EST on Tuesday September 11th when an American Airlines Boeing 767 impacted the north tower of the World Trade Center. The plane was loaded with an estimated 20,000 gallons of fuel, resulting in an ensuing fireball and destruction that paved way for the eventual, total collapse of the entire 110 story building.

Eighteen minutes later a second Boeing 767 from American Airlines crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:45 a.m. a third airliner plowed into the Pentagon military headquarters, destroying a large portion of the building. This killed 125 military personnel and civilians.

Less than 15 minutes later, the south tower of the WTC collapsed. At 10:30 a.m. the north tower collapsed. Smoke, dust, fire, death - it was unimaginable, horrific - hell on earth!

A fourth airliner crashed into the ground in a rural field in Pennsylvania, after passengers announced plans to take down the hijacker with those fateful words, “Let’s roll.”  That rash killed everyone on board, halting that fourth plane from reaching an unknown intended target, possibly the White House, or the U.S. Capitol building, Camp David or maybe even a nuclear power plant.

The emotional scars will likely be with millions of us for many years to come. For those of us unaccustomed to it, we witnessed in person, on television and the Internet what war and terrorism is all about. I hope we never experience it again…

Thank you to all first responders, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, medical teams, and every day, unsung heroes for what you do.

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact


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