It is hard to believe that it has been 19 years since that day in September when everything seemed to change. Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, only a few understood that we were already at war with an enemy that far fewer could even name. Our lives were, for the most part, safe and unencumbered by the thought that at any moment things could change.

Brunswick that morning, was in the midst of a beautiful late summer day. The air was warm and the sky was a magnificent blue. Being that it was a Tuesday people were off to their offices or job sites and just starting to begin the day in earnest.

For me I was just finishing an early morning meeting at the hospital when I walked into the Emergency Department as staff were huddled around the television in the lobby. It was then that I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Centers.

There were nurses, staff and doctors milling about around that small television wondering what was going on. The television brought us all together in that moment of time to bear witness to history. Some of us called family members. Some spoke of friends and family who lived and worked in Manhattan. None of us in that small room were watching or listening to the events unfold like people just a couple of miles away.

After watching the second plane hit I left the hospital to run an errand. Driving down Bath Road I came upon a sight that I did not expect and had never before seen. As quickly as events had unfolded the area around the main gate of the Brunswick Naval Air Station had become a hive of activity.

Sitting in the intersection were police vehicles with officers standing behind their cars. Between the main gate and the road were government vehicles with staff members standing guard by them as well. And as far as the eye could see were men and women sitting in their cars waiting to get onto the base. Sitting. Idling. Impatiently waiting to go to work.

I will never forget the looks on their faces as they turned on to the base, one by one, directed in by Brunswick Police officers keeping hold of the traffic. While all of us in our cars looked concerned and scared, these Sailors looked determined. They looked sure of themselves. They looked angry. They looked like they knew what was about to be asked of them.

While many of us sitting there that day in traffic were not running toward our newly discovered foes, these men and women were driving toward it and were just an order away from being deployed to do their part to face down this menace.

Over the days, weeks and months following the attacks we began to learn of the heroes of that day. People like NYFD Chief Orio Palmer, who raced up into the buildings to assess the damage and rescue survivors. People like Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick, who worked to help bring down flight 93 and thereby deny the terrorists their final target, just to name a few. But we don’t often think about those heroes sitting, waiting in their vehicles that morning, waiting to get to their offices and work stations at that Naval Air Station. Those heroes knew that their work was only just beginning as they waited in line.

Much has changed since that day in 2001. While it is fashionable today to speak out against some first responders and people in uniform, we must also remember that there are a small number of people who will answer the call when it is needed most. Thankfully, while most of us are running away from calamity and danger, there are still a few out there that will run toward it.

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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