Personal 9-11 Do’s & Don’ts

September 11, 2014     By Thomas Baldrick     #azstrong


WTC. The World Trade Center. WTF. September 11, 2001.

This is personal. If you ever wanted to read someone’s diary without feeling guilty or being ripped for it, here’s your chance. What to do with 9-11 memories? I don’t know. But every time the future brings September 11th to the present, it seems like my duty to share the past. Yeah, strange but true.

I don’t want to remember what I do about 9-11. But I don’t want Americans to forget.

If you feel the same way, you can share this with others

My heart still hurts for the many victims and their loved ones. I’m just a guy who lost part of himself that day and replaced it with other stuff. I covered the 9-11 tragedies for more than 6 weeks straight as a television journalist with ABC News. My sensitivity on the job helped greatly in some ways, hurt deeply in others. First, I was in New York City. Then, weeks later after I asked to quickly sneak home to Philadelphia for clean clothes one night after a scary bomb scare at Newark International Airport, I wound up being sent to Shanksville, PA. From New York City to there, you can’t experience more of a night and day difference in America than that.

Since the horrifying day Osama Bin Laden and his band of misguided Al Qaeda assassins (let’s call them asses for short), each anniversary has been less than pleasant. Each one has been different. #ThankYouArizona for the sun shining today.

So here goes. My brain and heart are sharing my good, bad, and ugly inside in the form of personal… “9-11 Do’s and Don’ts.”  

DO: I do get touched deeply by the annual September 11th Moment of Silence.

DON’T: I don’t think my neighbor’s yappy dog knew or cared about it this morning.


DO: 13 years later, I do remember. I remember sights and sounds. I remember smells, thoughts and feelings.

DON’T: I don’t wonder for a second why many men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have PTSD. I also don’t understand how these brave yet battered wounded warriors been so mistreated by their fellow Americans at the Phoenix VA Hospital.


DO: I do remember September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday.

DON’T: I don’t believe I can still hear Brian K. from the ABC News Bureau saying to me, “Pack a bag! We need you!… Oh by the way, can you come?”


DO: I do admit to having a love affair with the World Trade Center. Every time I saw those magnificent twin towers from New Jersey, I always got excited to be returning to New York City.

DON’T: Despite a beautiful photo in my home, I still don’t have the ability to think of those buildings without seeing them on fire and smoke rising to the heavens above the 5 boroughs.


DO: I do vividly remember standing near a bearded man in a turban as we both tried to use a pay phone. We said nothing to each other. We didn’t take our eyes off each other, or turn our backs on each other.

DON’T: I don’t deny judging him and wondering if he was Al Qaeda, wondering if I should just kick his ass before another act of terrorism happened.


DO: I do know I’ve kept my word since 9-11 and have been forced to act on it, never letting fear get in the way of some idiot possibly taking me and others down on an airplane.

DON’T: I don’t understand why more American passengers aren’t this way.


DO: I do remember being absolutely terrified on 9-11, literally thinking the world might be coming to an end. I know others were thinking the same thing.

DON’T: I don’t think there’s any way to measure the power of that fear, or the extraordinary acts of bravery, courage, and patriotism which shined in spite of it.


DO: Honor and thank #FDNY, #NYPD, the great people of the Greater New York City area for their kindness, courage, and leadership.

DON’T: Fail to include honor and thanks to the Shanksville Fire Department, the super people of Shanksville, PA, former Pennsylvania Governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker for their kindness, courage, and leadership.


DO: I said that day and many times since 9-11 how not only is tomorrow promised to no one…but neither is later today.

DON’T: I hope you don’t ignore what I just wrote. Tell people you love them every chance you get.


DO: I do admire New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for becoming Superman after 9-11, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

DON’T: I don’t think you can underestimate how he also rose to be part Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Captain America, Statue of Liberty, and Humpty Dumpty. Really.


DO: I do remember using my journalistic skills to reach the Newark Airport Terminal just hours after United Flight 93 took off and was hijacked.

DON’T: I still don’t know how at least one of the dozen or so police officers who were so scared and angry that day didn’t pull an itchy trigger finger on their shotguns all pointed right at me.


DO: I do know 9-11 brought out the goodness inside many people.

DON’T: I don’t know if you can comprehend what a small town the Big Apple was for a while after September 11th.


DO: I do know being blessed to serve as host of those life-changing retreats for children who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center was one of the greatest, most incredible honors of my life.

DON’T: I don’t want to believe any of the rumors about the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, the amazing people, and the mighty heroic mission I knew.


DO: I do know there were many victims who were lucky to escape with their lives on September 11th, 2001. I do know there were many heroes such as those from FDNY Engine 40 Ladder 12 in Manhattan who knew they were going to their deaths at the World Trade Center…and went anyway.

DON’T: I don’t know if I could ever be as brave as the heroes on 9-11 or admire them enough.


DO: What I can’t do yet is forgive. What I can’t do yet is forget.

DON’T: I don’t know if I ever will.


DO: I do have many more 9-11 Do’s & Don’ts memories to share.

DON’T: But I don’t want to do this anymore right now. Thank you for caring enough to read.