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Cornelius News

9/11 remembered; ceremony at Fire Station No. 1

Ron Huggins, Mt. Holly, and Sue McNally, Maiden, at the 9/11 ceremony in Cornelius this morning

Sept. 11. By Jeff Jackson. The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was a college sophomore watching television.

Just as I saw the second plane hit, I happened to see a dump truck across the street with its hauler elevated drive through a bunch of power lines and then all the lights went out.

Everyone from my dorm poured into the hallway and we tried to figure out what was happening.

I had never considered military service until that point, but suddenly my path diverted and I decided to enlist in the Army Reserve.

I drove over to the recruiting office and saw a Subway next door. So I walked over and bought a meatball sub. I remember sitting in a booth and eating it and thinking things over.

Then I went next door and walked into the recruiting station.

It was empty except for the sergeant sitting in the back. As soon as I stepped inside he jumped to his feet and pointed at me and declared, “We’ve been waiting for you, son!”

Did basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

The World Trade Center Sept. 10, 2001

Did advanced training at Ft. Bragg.

Did a year in Afghanistan on a remote desert outpost a few hours north of Kandahar.

Learned a lot about people, how much you can communicate through a solid language barrier, how to use different weapons.

It’s been 18 years since I enlisted. Now I drill once a month at an armory in Greensboro with the National Guard. That’s where my path since 9/11 has led.

Immense tragedy and human suffering inflicted purposefully and witnessed in real-time by our entire country instantly created the basis for over a decade of foreign policy and domestic politics.

bobby carey

Bobby Carey, a Viet Nam veteran, traveled from Red Cross, NC, to attend the 9/11 ceremony in Cornelius

That path has led many places. Some quite dark.

But for all that has been done in the name of those who died on that day, our experience of that moment – and the immediate aftermath – is still defined by pulling together, caring for each other, looking for ways to help.

Our first instinct was the right one.

The meaning of 9/11 may have become overlaid by years of politics and policy, progress and disaster – but the moment of 9/11 is untouched. It remains as it was.

And it will forever.

—Jeff Jackson


Jackson is a three-term NC state senator, representing District 37 in Raleigh. A soldier in the North Carolina Army National Guard, he attended law school with help from the G.I. Bill and went to work as an assistant district attorney