I remember this day in 2001, like it was yesterday. I had driven to Austin for a state compliance meeting at TCEQ, and I had no idea what was going on at all. One man had a text pager, and we received updates from his office throughout the morning. Even as the planes were grounded, our meetings continued. We didn’t see any pictures until lunchtime, and even then we didn’t understand the magnitude of the event.
I drove the Assistant Public Works Director for the City of Houston back to town that day. He was constantly on the phone with his team and the police department as helicopters were then patrolling over the lakes, our water supply, and the major facilities, along with the ship channel. We learned that downtown Houston had been evacuated hours earlier as a precaution, and it was eerie to drive him to the public works building downtown to pick up a vehicle for him to drive home since his was stuck at the airport. The city was quiet when it should have been at the height of rush hour.
And then I went home and remained glued to the TV with the rest of America. We cried, we were in shock, and then we were determined to remember and take action. Flags went up at every home and every building. We learned about the stories of heroes, some were just every day people who made decisions of sacrifice to save others.
We talk about making hard decisions and sacrifices all the time, but the heroes on 9/11 lived it. I want that courage, that determination, that clear calling to do the hard things. I may just be fighting for my family, but they are worth it. Along the way, I hope I help your family too.