Shared by Chesley Brown International
By: Dell Spry
They died that day. They woke that morning: showered, dressed, maybe had breakfast, kissed their spouse and children goodbye, and hurried off to work. Some were on airlines; some were at the Pentagon; some were at the World Trade Center. They may have had coffee and chatted with seatmates or coworkers. None knew they would soon become a part of history.
When the first plane flew into the World Trade Center, we all became fixed to our radios or our televisions as we waited on the newscasters to explain to us how such a tragic accident could have occurred. Then the second plane struck.
Do you remember that moment; how time stood still as we were suspended somewhere between the horror of the moment and the minutes that were to come; somewhere between reality and unreality; between belief and the inability to believe? Will any of us forget where we were that day when we heard the news?
I was in Detroit as a Special Agent with the FBI helping to complete a routine, but mandatory, inspection of the FBI Detroit Division. I recall how quickly we set up a command post which connected us with FBIHQ and every FBI office around the world. Through FBIHQ we remained constantly aware of the communications with the on scene responders. Almost immediately thereafter we were in direct communication with every agency comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community. Shortly after that we were in communication with the intelligence services of other countries as we all worked in a global initiative to determine if another attack against our nation, or other nations, was imminent.
In the days that followed, I recall seeing a newspaper that carried on its front page the picture of the child of one of the pilots at his father’s funeral. He stood beside his mother with innocence we, as adults, lost long ago. But it was clear from the photo he knew, as he looked at his father’s casket, his Dad would not be coming home. There would be no more kisses, no more tickling, no more bed time stories.
I needed, and need, to tell this child something: I need to tell him I love him. I need to tell him my heart will ache, forever, at his loss.
The wounds inflicted upon those who were left behind that day will, by the grace of God, heal. But the scars will never go away. Nor will the scars of the individuals who responded: the police, the firefighters, the paramedics, the military, the federal law enforcement personnel, and the survivors who heroically did what they could to save their coworkers. All of these people stayed focused as tragedy upon tragedy continued to mount upon them. The carnage which surrounded them must have been mind numbing. Surely at some point their ability to realize what had taken place collided with their ability to feel; the realization running full force into a wall of grief and pain. And yet they remained steadfast to the job at hand. They were our saviors and our protectors. They were our silent warriors.
Our government leaders, civilian and military, spoke to reassure us (and we desperately needed reassuring) that the battle against terrorism would be won and those responsible would be brought to justice. Those who were assigned to carry out this promise, the silent warriors, set about their tasks.
In the days which followed September 11, 2001, we paid our respects and gave honor to those who were senselessly murdered that day. We did so not only because it was proper, but because we had an emotional need to do so. But this cadre of silent warriors served in anonymity. To this day most carry their wounds in silence.
And I am not sure we as a nation ever said thank you; at least not as we should have. Although my attempt is admittedly feeble, I would like to try. Even though this is written more from a law enforcement perspective based upon my adult life having been spent in the FBI, I offer my solemn assurance this is meant for all the ones who touched us that day.
They are heroes.
To the Silent Warriors:
On September 11, 2001, you found yourself confronted with a challenge few could have imagined the day before. I stood beside you that morning in awe as the enormity of the events settled into reality. I watched as many of you stood in stunned silence attempting to comprehend the news you were hearing. I saw the tears on your face as you watched the televised pictures of the tragic events.
Through the incomprehensible horror, I saw the silent look of dignity and tribute as you heard the news concerning United Flight 93 being taken over by the passengers who crashed the plane rather than allowing it, and them, to be a weapon of terror used against other Americans. I watched your head bow briefly in solemn recognition as you accepted the fact those passengers were, at that moment, standing before God clothed in the robes of heroes.
And then I marveled; marveled at the way you began the process of addressing the wrong. While most of America sat motionless overwhelmed by the horror, you methodically set about your tasks and began work. Within minutes, command posts were activated around the globe as you began to do what you do best: serve our nation.
Although the days that lay ahead of you held nothing but the promise of long hours away from home and family spent in a frustrating search for elusive answers, you accepted this challenge with a resolve born of professional determination.
Each of you excelled beyond measure and exhibited unparalleled dedication in your quiet resolve to help a wounded nation begin the healing process. It is time, now, to pause and reflect upon the challenge that was given you.
You were once again called upon to be the vanguard in protecting the domestic tranquility. I felt confident in your quiet assurance that you would not fail in your endeavor due in no small measure to the values that were so typically displayed throughout the process of insuring justice.
People often speak of the values we all cherish. You chose to live them. The values you displayed and the dedicated manner in which you carried out your responsibilities comprise the very heart of your assurances to a troubled nation that you will remain in the front line of our nation's battle against the tyranny of terrorism.
I realize all too often what you are called upon to do must, of necessity, go unrecognized and unheralded by those whom you have taken an oath to protect with your lives should that eventuality prove necessary. I am certain I speak for all when I humbly offer you the unknowing gratitude of a nation. While others boast of their feats and accomplishments and seek a degree of notoriety, each of you has chosen to remain silent and in the shadows while those less worthy garner the praise. I know this comes from the strength of your character which allows you to rest secure in the knowledge you have completed your task to the best of your ability. To this I would add the simple commendation, "Well done".
I offer each of you my deepest gratitude and appreciation for your untiring efforts and unequaled commitment to our nation's cause. I pray that God will, by His providence and mercy, return you at days end to the arms of a loving family. And I pray that this love will offer you comfort, solace, and the chance for you to heal.
May God bless you and keep you safe.
Managing Director Special Investigations
(ret). FBI Lead Special Agent on the Aldrich Ames CIA spy case
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