Sept. 11, 1989, was my due date for Christopher Robert Wilkening, our second son. I had a friend who was pregnant and due Sept. 20 that year; it was her first child. Randy Jr. was five days past his due date, but I was sure this child would come on time because I was so much bigger and more uncomfortable. But, he lingered and my girlfriend had her daughter on my due date. I was so upset and cried for 11 more days until Chris was born. I never thought of that time until that morning that could have been his 12th birthday.
Randy Sr. already had left for the fire station for his 24-hour shift and the boys had gone off to school. I was getting ready for work. About 9 a.m., Randy called and told me to turn on the television. I did in protest, I never watched TV in the morning, to see the horror of what was unfolding in front of my eyes. One tower on fire; then suddenly another jet slamming through the second tower! Oh, my God, what was happening? Of course, the rest of the day I was glued to the television and the news of this horrific event like no other on American soil.
Where were you when the planes hit those glistening towers in the sunny New York sky? When the plane hit the Pentagon or when the fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field?
This day is very much remembered to those of us in the fire family; 343 firefighters lost their lives that day, running into buildings when others were running out. That is their job and their calling. The first responders were the heroes that day and they will be in our hearts and minds forever.
We should all have a heartfelt need as Americans to pay tribute to those killed and honor their families and friends left behind. Every household should plan to fly a flag today, if possible, to honor them and those who continue to fight at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.
In the days, weeks and months following these attacks, our country was bathed in a sea of flags as we mourned the incredible losses but sadly that has fallen away. This patriotism of ours pulled us through those months afterward, and I hope to see those flags rise in the breeze once again as we stand together, shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism.
Another idea would be doing a good deed or a random act of kindness for someone else to show your fellow man or woman that you care.
Remember and pray for all those who are serving our country in the armed forces, as well. Freedom is not free and many are still waging the war on terrorism. Pray to God that our Congress and president make the right decisions this week in regards to Syria for times are much more grievous than they were 12 years ago. Remember all our patriots. God bless Portage and God bless America.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.