The plan was to go to the beach and enjoy one of the last brilliant days of summer. Instead, we sat in front of the TV, shaking our heads when we could move them, calling friends and family and just feeling numb. An eerie silence smothered my neighborhood as the day progressed, the crystal clear air and eighty degree tempature seeming to mock the dismal mood that permeated my surroundings. The state airport half a mile away might as well have been a desert, nothing stirred, no low hum of planes taxiing, no roar of jet engines whining before the roar of takeoff, no noise, no movement, nothing but the sound of bugs and birds, and the occasional car as it passed on the main road, half a mile away.

When I could, I tore myself away from the television screen, the first tower had fallen, followed by the second some time later. The time between is lost to me, my memories flash them collapsing in quick succession.

“We just lost hundreds of firefighters,” I said to my wife as we watched the tragedy unfold.

“Surely they weren’t still inside,” she replied, horror and emotion choking the words.

“They were.”

Some things you just know.

I stood in the doorway of my garage, listening to the silence, hoping for the roar of a plane taking off, an F-16, A B-52, A Blackhawk…anything as long as it were headed over there, where, I had no idea but felt certain Washington knew, but the same deafening silence filled the quiet streets. I crossed my arms, shook my head and stood there. unable to move.

In the corner, leaning against a bunch of hockey sticks and a broom, was my salvation. I walkled closer, stood there for a moment, really seeing it for the first time, even though I put it out every Forth of July, Memorial and Veterans day and some others if I remembered. I was only paralysed for a moment, then took action. It was a tiny bit of energy expelled on my part, a few steps, grasping the pole, unfurling the flag, putting it into the porcelain holder I had screwed into my garage years before and stepping back. Almost magically a breeze, one of the very few that blew that day pushed past my home, opening the flag in it’s full glory, waving, then resting. That small act made me feel a lot better about things and I silently thanked those who have fought and died so that I had the opportunity to perform my private ceremony, thus mourning the lost and re-kindling my patriotic spirit that had lay dormant for years.

Later that day, I left for work, still stunned and shell shocked, my view of the world changed forever. I said goodbye to Cheryl, lingering a little longer than usual, both of us realizing how precious our lives really are. In a daze I drove the usual route, past the homes, through Pawtuxet Village, into Cranston eventually arriving in Providence.

Of all the things about that day I will “Never Forget,” the hundreds of American Flags that magically appeared along my route remain the most vivid. On doorways, utility poles, storefronts, from car windows, everywhere I could see the red white and blue flew proudly.

The best part of it all is nobody told us to do it, it hadn’t become fashionable yet, it just was. There were a lot of private ceremonies going on that day, I didn’t know it but I was never alone when I stood in my garage and planted the flag proudly on my home.

I will “Never Forget” those that perished that day, especially the firefighters, EMT’s and police officers that answered the call for help.

And as my ride to work on September 11th, 2001 showed me, neither will anybody else.


  • Teri says:

    Michael, Nice post, thanks!
    I have been seing those words “Never Forget alot again today but I think they have become hollow to most. The comraderie, the patriotism, the common curtosy that was rampant for months after 9/11, has waned considerably as people have lost faith once again in their government and fellow men and women. It seems to me the ones who truley remember are the Firefighters, the Police, the emergency crews that would have to be there if this ever happened agian, they remember every day and have changed the way they live day to day! I understand that one’s life and circumstances once again take front seat, but for a country to become complacent again is hard to fathom! Most people tend to forget the service men and women still fighting and losing their lives from this date. I have an adopted soldier who looks forward to the weekely packages of snacks I send and the emails from home, even if I am a stranger to him and his 4 platoon men! Ahh a bittersweet day at best! Take great care out there!

  • peedee says:

    I have this thing, actually my whole family has this thing. Dont mess with us/ours. If someone hurt my sisters or me growing up my brothers were there to pound the offender into the ground. I would protect my little sister to the death. My kid and my parents included. Its just the way it is. After 9/11 occured I had the same feeling about my country. I wanted to pound whoever had hurt us into the ground. I was angry.

    That day eight years ago I watched the events unfold with all my coworkers on a little 10 inch tv screen at work. Lauren and I lived in Tampa at the time on the 3rd floor of an apartment building. As I pulled in, I looked up at my apartment and there hanging over our banister was our old flag. Lauren had put it out. She was in 7th grade at the time and she fully understood what had occured. And she was angry. She wanted to pound whoever had done this to her country into the ground. If she could have enlisted in the military then, she would have.

    I’ll never forget. I’m pretty sure my kid wont either.

  • 40lizard says:

    None of us ever will forget! for me our world changed in the exact 4 and 1/2 minutes it took me to walk from the car to the office- I was ready to rumble, go whatever. By the time I got home hubby already had our flags out. They stayed out until they had to be replaced.

  • Great post LT. We as Americans do remember. We Do stand together. We Do bleed, breathe, and stand as one. No matter what people might tell us.

    Always Remember, Never forget

  • Epijunky says:

    I can’t say it any better.

    My flag went up that day. Along with countless neighbors. Ckemtp said it better. Always remember, never forget.

  • None of us will ever forget that devastating day or the brave men who gave their lives trying to help others. This year, as most years since then, we spent our day quietly, recalling the saddest day in living memory. For me it unfolded like a horror film on 9.11. We watched it all with disbelief but it did not end like a horror film it just got worse!!! I will think of your flag flying on that day, so when the rememberance date comes round again, that will cheer me some…

  • Chrysalis says:

    For sure we will never forget! Especially those that are still suffering from it. I have a friend that helped in all that mess, and now he is having lung issues so bad, he’s unable to work as a paramedic at this writing.
    He’s a young man, too. Sentenced to a lifetime of health issues that others of us can take for granted, albeit unintentionally.

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