It’s been 20 years since 9/11/2001. I look back at how much things have changed during that time but also on how much they have not. How many remember the saying “Never Forget”?

I, for one, have not. I still remember the smallest details about that day. I was working for a private ambulance service in Northeast Tennessee and had just gotten back to the station after an overnight trip to Birmingham, Alabama with a cardiac patient. I was tired, near exhaustion, and was sitting in the break room dreading the drive home. The phone rang and an off duty paramedic told us to turn the TV on to CNN or Fox.

Thick black smoke rolled out of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the clock on the wall showed 8:49 A.M. Talking heads on the screen tried to make sense of what was happening. Where had the plane come from, how could this have happened? At first they said it was a small plane, then they started to realize that it was a huge one. At work we debated the response, the options for fighting a fire stoked by aviation fuel that high up.

9/11: The Day of the Attacks - The Atlantic

The second plane, Flight 175 hit the South Tower. A tear started down my cheek. This was no accident and this was no small plane. This was WAR. We were being attacked. It hit me like a punch to the nether regions. I was sad, enraged, speechless. The room was deathly silent, we all knew what this meant. Someone had come to OUR country and had attacked us! That I know of, this was only the third time in our history that this had happened, that a foreign power or invader had entered our county. The last time flung us into a World War fighting on two fronts at once and cost almost a half a million American lives. What would happen this time?

I sat transfixed, starring at the screen. I cried openly. I wanted to scream! I tried to call home only to find that the cell phones were becoming useless. After 5 minutes the call got through, yes she had seen it, no I was still at work, no I don’t know anything else. Papers floated down out of the twin towers from above over New York and I thought how much it looked like a ticker tape parade. I watched police, EMS and fire rushing towards the buildings and thought of a friend I had met a few years before during a three week class in Baltimore who worked in New York City. Was he on duty today? How could I find out? Thirty plus minutes went by, oh dear lord did someone just jump?

Remembering 9/11: The Pentagon Attack - HISTORY

They break away from New York to show the Pentagon in flames. Another plane, this time aimed at our military headquarters. I grew up on Air Force bases throughout the country and had always heard of this massive building. Here it was in flames! Where would it end? I knew people who would likely be responding there as well. Would they make it through the day?

Suddenly the sounds outside changed and we rushed out to see planes descending. Wait a minute, what’s going on? We may be in Tennessee but this area could be target rich, Oak Ridge National labs to the South West, Nuclear Fuels to our South, Holston Army Ammunition Plant and of course Eastman Chemical Company. Any of these would cause death, destruction and most probably a cloud of really bad stuff that would kill thousands. Going back inside we heard that all planes were being ordered down at the closest airports. That meant, hopefully at least, that we had seen and heard planes dropping down to land at the Tri-Cities Airport and maybe even Knoxville and Asheville as well.

By radio and station phone we were told that all employees were being called in. No one knows anything but if something happens, we need to be ready. Then the unthinkable happens, the South Tower falls. A dust cloud covers the Island. What about all of those people? What about the other tower? What about my friend? What about all my brothers and sisters who had rushed to save every one? Who would save them? Realization set in about the deaths. For the second time in one day I openly cried in front of my co-workers. I wanted to find whoever had done this and kill them with my own hands.

Tale of 44 unsung heroes who saved White House in 9/11 attacks

The TV told us of a plane down in Pennsylvania. Had it been shot down or had it crashed for another reason? Was this a strange coincidence? Back to New York, people were running away from the remaining building as even more of my brothers were rushing towards them. Over the years I have unfortunately been on calls where a coworker didn’t make it. My heart ached for them. Then the North Tower came down. I sat there for hours, barely moving and honestly had no real sense of time passing by.

Nobody got out of there unscathed': Thousands continue to suffer from  9/11-related illnesses 14 years after terrorist attack - New York Daily News

Eventually I was told I could leave. Cell phone service was pretty much still shot, there was no way to get a call through to New York and Washington so I still didn’t know about my friends in either. On the way home I listened to people try and explain the scale of what had happened and fail miserably. The entirety of my day is forever crystalized in my brain. When I think of it I can recall all of the emotions, all of the thoughts, the sounds, the smells. Other than the passing of my mother it was by far the worst day of my life and one that will forever remain in my mind.

After I got home I heard Speaker of the House address the Nation: “When America suffers, and when people perpetrate acts against this country, we as a Congress and a government stand united and we stand together to fight this evil threat. Those who brought forth this evil deed will pay the price.” Then members of both parties and both houses sang God Bless America together. For the third time in one day, I cried.

The first time I had cried was more rage, the realization that WE were at war, that someone had done this to US. The second time was sadness because of the overwhelming loss of life, the people at the buildings and the surrounding areas and so many that had rushed to help their fellow man. The third time was because of an overwhelming sense of pride. We had been hit by one of the worst acts in the history of our country yet here we were, a united front. There were no groups, no hyphens, no divides, we were the United States of America! One people, one county, one thought. We ran out of American Flags, the approval ratings of the President and Congress were at the highest point in American history!


A lot has happened since that day 20 years ago. I am going to try my hardest not to point fingers or get political about the why or the how. I am simply going to say what is on my mind.

When I look out at the country I see a wider divide between groups than I ever thought possible. We are much farther apart than at anytime during my life. Ladonna and I talked about this and wondered if this is worse than in the 1960’s or the 1860’s? Since we were not around then we really do not know. Every group on the right and the left seems to have an issue with every other group. They are not liberal enough, not conservative enough, the skin color is different, the beliefs are different. There does not even seem to be two sides but an ever growing number of them as the fractures split like shards of glass.

To be sure there have been upheavals that have tossed and torn us over the last two decades and I am not going to try and get into any of them. What I am going to ask is that those of us that were there, in person or glued to a screen or radio or getting home to hear, remember. Remember what it was like when it dawned on you what was happening, the emotional roller coaster you were on. The lives that were forever changed as mothers, fathers, children were torn away from us. The pride we had for everyday Americans, first responders, military and ordinary citizens alike who rushed in to save as many as they could and the people on Flight 93 who crashed a plane so others could live. Teach our children and their children.

Remember what our flag represents, remember that we are the freest country on this planet, remember what that means and all of the sacrifices over the years that granted us this.

Remember we are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!


Goldilocks- A Shopping Story

We all know the story of Goldilocks and the bears. But recently, while shopping with my teenage daughter I learned the modern equivalent of the story. It goes kinda like this:

Once upon a time, there was a teenager named Goldilocks.  She went with her family to shop for clothes.  Pretty soon, she came upon a store called Levi’s.  She opened the door and then she walked right in.

On the wall of the store hung many pants but only three she liked.  She tried on the first pair.

“These pants are too small!” she exclaimed.

So, she tried on the second pair.

“These pants are too big,” she said

So, she tried on the third pair.

“Ahhh, these pants are just right,” she said happily but then added, ” but they are the wrong color!”

After she’d looked and looked there were none that were the right color so she she left.  So, she walked into the Marshall’s where she saw more jeans.  Goldilocks grabbed a pair that was the right shade.

“These pants are too big!” she exclaimed.

So she tried a second pair.

“This pair is too big, too!”  she whined.

So she tried the last and smallest pair.

“Ahhh, this pair is just right,” she sighed.  But just as she settled down and started to pay for them she noticed that the pockets were not right!

Goldilocks was very tired by this time, so she went to T.J. Maxx and looked at pants.  She tried on the first pair, but it was too rough.  Then she put on the second pair, but it was too soft.  Then she threw down the third pair because they were too blue.  Goldilocks left the store.

As she was walked through the shopping center she entered a fourth store but didn’t look at pants at all but shirts and jackets and things. This store never has the right size or shade for me in jeans she told her anxious, exhausted family (bears).

“Someone’s been looking at pants everywhere and these are the right color,” growled the Papa bear.

“Someone’s been looking at pants everywhere and these are the size and cut,” said the Mama bear.

“Someone’s been looking at every store and these are not too rough or too soft!” cried the Baby bear.

But Goldilocks wasn’t sure so she tried on other clothes instead.

“Someone’s to picky,” growled the Papa bear.

“Someone’s needs to relax,” said the Mama bear.

“Someone needs to find some food,” cried the Baby bear.

Goldilocks decided to look around some more and so Papa bear growled, “I am kinda hungry too”

“Maybe you should find a place to sit” said the Mama bear

“Someone’s been trying on clothes all day and she still is!” exclaimed Baby bear.

Just then, Goldilocks looked up and saw the pants they had been pointing too.  She screamed, “There they are, I knew I would find them there!”  And she jumped up and ran out of the room to try them on.  Goldilocks ran from the changing room and asked for a credit card.  And she explained that if we had just come to this store, the one she KNEW the pants were at instead of making her go to all the others we could already be home by now!

I Thought I Was Ready

Soo, I was all ready for the return to work and running. I told everyone that I would be back, I had my return to work physical fitness test scheduled, I was back on the schedule. I even had decided that I should video the shaving of the beard, since it’s the most hair I’ve had attached even remotely close to my head since I was… maybe 20?

I had talked to PT, okay, yes I understood that my leg was still weak. Really, only 62% of the other leg? Yes, I agree that I should maybe do some more therapy even when I go back to work to prevent re injury. Then the doctor’s appointment. Disappointment followed. Yes I was progressing well, maybe a little to soon to go back to work just yet. Still weakness, yes some more therapy seems reasonable, no squatting, lifting, or stooping, must be able to sit while working and for no more than 6 hours a day. Yes, he understands that my job is 24 hour shifts and that I have to do all of those things, just not there yet. Come back after some more therapy, almost there.

Yep, I thought I was ready… but to be honest, a two hour therapy session sends me to the couch to prop the leg up. Still there is an end in sight, not much longer, I hope. ;-(

35 Years Later

Happy Anniversary to me! It just occurred to me that as my birthday looms yet again there is another date fast approaching, my EMS Anniversary. On about the same day, 35 years ago, I joined the Lee County Junior Rescue Squad, Pennington Gap Unit in Virginia. 30 years ago I worked my first shift for a small private ambulance service and was paid for the first time for providing medical care. For the last several years I have had the joy of serving with some of the best in the world at Sullivan County EMS and teaching with the Southwest Virginia Paramedic Program.

Somehow I’ve managed to beat the odds. National statistics show that EMS is such a hard life that the average paramedic lasts just 5 years. Along the way I have changed from the youngest, least experienced person to the ancient one in a blink of an eye. There have been so many changes in the profession and so many hardships and so many people.  I can’t wait to see what the next 35 years hold!


Day 44 of Nonrunning

I am sitting here on the couch. In the last 7 weeks I feel as if I have spent more time sitting than the last 7 years combined. Today I’m feeling more down than usual. I miss the road, the trail. I miss the clarity of thought that somehow reaches me more readily in the middle of the miles. I miss the sweat, the breathing, the feeling of accomplishment. Continue reading Day 44 of Nonrunning

Knee Update

I am sitting here at home, still. Almost two weeks have passed since my last doctor’s appointment and the knee is pretty much the same. It is a dull ache while sitting but even the easiest of things such as walking the dog down the street or going shopping result in swelling and sometimes bruising. Sometime though it is becoming less frequent the knee will lock. This always means more pain afterwards. I Continue reading Knee Update

Knee Pain

Can Chiropractic treat knee pain? Yes, knee pain can be treated with chiropractic adjustments. There are several factors that can cause pain to the knees and must be corrected in order to prevent damage to the joint and surrounding tissues. One of the most common causes is excessive body weight; the knees provide support to the entire upper body and excessive pressure and strain can cause painful injuries. Patients who are overweight must adjust their lifestyle to include regular activity and a healthy diet in order to avoid further damage to the knees. A chiropractor can restore alignment to displaced structures in the knee and other linked structures that might also be affected by dysfunction in the knee, such as the hip or lower back. In some cases, in addition to regular adjustments, physical therapy is recommended for optimum results.

Palm Reflexology

Some days you may feel like you’ve got the whole world in the palm of your hands. That might be a little lofty, but it can be said that you have yourself in the palm of your hands. Certain pressure points on your hands can help relieve pain in other parts of the body. For more information on these pressure points to to www.higherperspectives.com/palm-reflexology