I was living and working in Silicon Valley in Northern California on 9/11/2001, so I saw it all unfolding back home in the NY metro area from a strange, disconcerting distance.
The first news I got was from a roughly 6:00 AM Pacific time IM with a New Jersey friend, who informed me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center while he was commuting on the New Jersey Turnpike to work.
Of course, I thought it was a Cessna. How wrong I was.
Too many forget the horror and panic of those days in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when the expectation was that another such attack was going to come any day now. I remember vividly my mother telling me my sister was seriously considering going to Germany (where we have many cousins and aunts and uncles) with my niece and nephew simply in an effort to get smallpox vaccines for them, because those were unavailable here in the United States.
My home county in New Jersey, Monmouth County, famously took the biggest hit in terms of lives lost. I was not there then, so I can only take the word of my family and friends that the smell from the fallen towers lasted for days after the attacks.
We have come a long way since then, but not so long that we should forget the enormity of the evil visited upon us by the gleeful fanatics of Al Qaeda. We are on the verge of decisively defeating them in Iraq, but much work remains to be done in Afghanistan and in their new safe havens of Pakistan's wild northwest territories.
Never forgive. Never forget.