As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on our nation approaches, all of us who were aware of the enormity of what was taking place that day in 2001 will likely remember where we were -- and the pain that gripped us as witnesses to the loss of so many innocent lives.
I was a state representative at the time, and that morning I was driving to Columbus for a meeting of the Ohio General Assembly. My sister, Jennifer, called my cell phone and asked the location of the office in New York where my daughter worked.
Emilie had a job with a magazine in midtown Manhattan, near St. Patrick's Cathedral. When I asked my sister why she wanted to know the exact location, she replied: "A plane has just hit the World Trade Center."
Emilie's office wasn't nearby, but I was filled with concern for her and others in the city.
I frantically switched between Cincinnati radio stations, trying in vain to find a news report with details. Finally, I tuned in a live broadcast from New York, and the host of what's usually considered a comedy program told me and other listeners that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center -- and that it was obviously a terrorist attack.
I tried desperately to reach my daughter on her cell phone, but New York's communications system had been brought to its knees by the sudden and overwhelming demand for service. About an hour passed before I got word from the magazine that Emilie was safe.
On this solemn anniversary, my thoughts go out to the families who weren't as fortunate that day. So many people lost daughters or sons, while others grieved for brothers or sisters, spouses, parents, grandparents, cousins, co-workers, or friends.
Nearly 3,000 people died that Sept. 11. More than 2,600 perished at the World Trade Center, 125 died at the Pentagon, and more than 200 went down on the four hijacked planes, according to the 9/11 Commission report.
Despite all the time that has passed, the terrible feelings are undimmed.
Our vigilance must remain just as sharp. Osama Bin Laden has met with his just end, and so have many of his henchmen. But while al-Qaeda and its sympathizers are down, there will always be corners in the world dark enough for some terrorists to hide.
So there might never be a definite end to the global war on terror -- at least not marked brightly like V-E Day and V-J Day at the close of World War II, with white-gloved surrender ceremonies followed by parades and dancing in the streets.
We might simply notice one day that the kind of bad people whose unconscionable actions resulted in little old ladies walking shoeless through airport security lines haven't been heard from in several years.
It's a less-than-satisfying conclusion for a 10-year, trillion-dollar war the United States didn't seek -- but couldn't shirk.
While we remember the lives lost Sept. 11, 2001, let us also pay tribute to the members of our military, who continue to battle in Afghanistan, Iraq and other trouble spots against people who would like to harm us.
And let us never forget the police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who put their lives on the line -- or sacrificed them -- in courageous efforts to reduce the death toll amid the carnage of that Sept. 11.
Before then, how many of us took for granted the risks taken by our first responders?
In this case, they were the first soldiers to enter the battle against terrorism. Before the Twin Towers crumbled, many first responders entered those buildings knowing they might not come out alive.
God bless them.
And may God continue to bless the United States of America.