Thursday, September 10, 2009

Project 2996 - We will never forget

Today's post isn't about my book, or writing, or other authors. It's about honoring those that perished on September 11, 2001 with Project 2996 - a wonderful idea by Dale C. Roe.

From what I’ve read about Melissa Rose Barnes, Yeoman second class, U.S. Navy, I think that if we’d had the opportunity to meet, we would've been friends. Her family and friends have described her as the family "clown" – and anyone who makes people laugh can be a friend of mine!

Melissa was stationed at the Pentagon, and was there on September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and used as a weapon against the United States. She was 27 years old.

I was living in the DC suburbs at the time, and I can remember that day as clear as glass. I was at work as a Web editor for the Finance channel at AOL, and monitoring Wall Street on the television. The station brought us breaking news to tell us that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center. Honestly, I thought "how awful!" but assumed, as did most, that it was a fluke accident. Only a few minutes later, the second plane hit, and my heart sank into my stomach. Our office building was right next to Dulles Airport, so we were quickly evacuated. I listened to the radio as I was driving home, shaking and crying and wondering what kind of world I now lived in. The radio guy (Elliot in the Morning) said that he was getting reports that the USA Today buildings had been hit because people could see smoke rising behind them. I would find out when I returned home and turned on NBC that the smoke they were seeing was actually coming from the Pentagon, located directly behind those buildings.

I was very concerned about those in the Pentagon, as my friend's father worked there as well. Once the phone lines were open again, I found out that her dad was okay. But others weren't. Melissa wasn't.

"Mel," as she was called, was scheduled to start her first seaborne assignment the next month. Mel's mom told the Washington Post that her daughter was so proud to wear her uniform and serve her country. I wish I could somehow tell Mel and her mom that I am so proud of her for her service and her sacrifice.

I still can't think about September 11, 2001 without getting emotional – and I'm tearing up as I write this. Mel and the other 2998 people who died that day paid the ultimate price for my freedom, my liberty and my happiness. Everyone's world changed that day – and the family and friends of the victims will never be the same. My loss was of innocence, their loss was of spirit.

I honor Melissa Rose Barnes, and look up as I write this and give her a salute. I know she's probably looking back and laughing, just as her family remembers her.

We will never forget.

Read about Project 2996 and see the other participants, so you can read the other memorials and honor them as well.

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