September 11 – A Day We Will Never Forget – My Personal Journey – Editorial

Read More

By Mark A. Leon

It was sometime after seven when my phone rang. I was groggy and half awake but somehow felt the need to answer my phone. Kim was the on the other end frantically telling me to turn my television on. Without hesitation or knowledge of why, I did. She then began to tell me the cryptic pieces of information surrounding a plane going into the World Trade Center. It was moments later when I witnessed the second plane make a permanent impression in my mind. I soon hung up and continued to stare at the screen as my eyes got lost far beyond the scenes I was seeing on the television screen.

I sat silently and still on the floor, watching, absorbing, and reflecting as the news trying to make sense of this madness. Memories of my days on Wall Street came back quickly and I could remember my footsteps from the PATH train to Broad Street. Now that path is covered in rubble and smoke and the familiar sounds of taxis are now filled with screams.

After several hours, without knowing what to do or who to call, I played nine holes of golf. Upon completion, as I walked the final path to the clubhouse, my phone rang. I don’t know why, but had a feeling the news was not good. I had no reason to believe that the call from my parents home phone was good or bad news, but I knew. Maybe it was the day playing in the back of my mind or perhaps the knowledge that my parents rarely ever called me during the day. With a brief hesitation, I answered to hear my father on the other end confirming my notion. I received the news that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mid afternoon on September 11 as the world reacted, lived and digested what would become the most memorable day of our lives, I stood alone hearing the word you never want to hear in relation to a family member, friend or yourself.

Much of the next several hours were a bit of a blur. Sometime in between the hours of 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM I leaned on a rock just outside my apartment and looked up at the sky. My first thought was of the deafening silence filling the sky with only the view of stars shining. No planes, no helicopters, no sound resonating. Of course this being in the middle of a remote part of Oklahoma would not have shocked anyone but living seven miles from an international airport meant something else. How can complete silence send shivers down one’s spine? I don’t know, but the empty sound was the spark that drove me into a period of weakness and sorrow. I shed a tear as an entire day of devastation ran circles in my mind. Over and over I remember the calls, the videos, the commentary and through all that, it was the silence that sent me over the edge.

That was September 11, 2001.

One year and six days later, we lost her.

Fifteen years have passed and more mature. The world as you and I know it changed that day, not in a temporary, but permanent way. It awakened us to the notion that we are all vulnerable. How often to we go to a movie and watch a blockbuster about an apocalyptic event and sit in awe at the wonder of Hollywood magic? Yet, to witness the unimaginable happen before our eyes wondering and praying that our friends and loved ones were not part of this madness is something not many of us would pay the price of admission for. I grew up in New Jersey, raised by two home bread New York parents. Spent some time on Wall Street living the American dream. Never in the midst of the madness known as New York City could I imagine an event so catastrophic ever happening in my backyard.

If asked what emotions went through my system that day, I would have to say shock, fear, heartbreak, concern, confusion and hope. I am sure you are thinking why “hope” in that list of negative emotions. Well, without hope, we have nothing. Everyday we live with the risk of tragedy whether it affects one person or thousands, yet each day we wake up to a new sunrise with the hope of a day filled with happiness and love.

September 11 was tragic for me in so many ways, mostly personal. I needed to feel hope that as a family we would be by my mother’s side supporting her, comforting her and knowing together we could beat this disease. As we come closer to the 10th anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever, I will be thinking about my mother and the struggles she had to endure so that we could have the blessing of having her in our lives.

My greatest tragedy of that day was not the events over lower Manhattan. It was that I was not there to hug and hold my mother when she received the news of the unwelcome visitor in her body. I’m sorry Mom.

“With these hands, I pray for the strength Lord; with these hands, I pray for the faith Lord.” – Springsteen

To The Bravery and Courage of Those Fallen – Reflections of Memorial Day

Read More

This weekend is a time of reflection and remembrance to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.? A life of honor is a life fulfilled.? Each one of those men and women that dedicated their lives to a great unknown with the sole purpose of giving us the freedom to breathe the air of freedom, we will not forget you.? Sometimes pictures say all the words you need.

To those brave individuals that carry on the legacy of those fallen, we stand beside you with pride and hope, so that one day, you may never need to fight again.

To all the mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents that gave their mind, body and soul to raising the flag of hope for a better tomorrow, we share in your fears and keep you deep in our prayers.

Quotes and Images of Devotion, Dedication and Commitment – We honor the past, the present and future

F”reedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” ~Thomas Campbell

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” ~Abraham Lincoln

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” ~Thomas Paine

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Let freedom never perish in your hands.” ~Joseph Addison

“Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” – Stephen R. Covey

“I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.” – Madonna

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“History does not teach fatalism. There are moments when the will of a handful of free men breaks through determinism and opens up new roads.” ~Charles de Gaulle

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”?–Joseph Campbell

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”?–Elmer Davis

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”?–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”?–Benjamin Disraeli

“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.”?–Washington Irving

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”?–G.K. Chesterton

“For love of country they accepted death.” —James A. Garfield

“These heroes are dead. They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead.” —Robert G. Ingersoll

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me and I’ll proudly stand next to him to defend her still today, ‘cuz there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.” -Lee Greenwood

“The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.” -Randy Vader

“The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.” -Rev. Aaron Kilbourn

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” -John F. Kennedy

“They are dead; but they live in each Patriot’s breast, and their names are engraven on honor’s bright crest.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Battle of Lovell’s Pond

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” —Thomas Campbell

“And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.” —Joseph Rodman Drake

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” -Billy Graham

You are all Heroes!!!

Photos:? National Military Cemetery – Beaufort, South Carolina