by Doug Ulman
I always remember growing up when my parents would talk about historical events and they would tell me in detail where they were when something major transpired. They knew where they were. They knew who was there. They knew what the weather was like. It was almost like they had taken a picture that encompassed all of the elements and it was engrained in their mind. Whether it was John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr’s death they remembered the vivid details.
As a kid raised in Maryland there were a handful of things I remember vividly in that same regard. I know exactly where I was when the Challenger exploded as it took off for space. The name Christa McAuliffe will forever be emblazoned in my mind. I know exactly where I was when Len Bias, the former University of Maryland basketball star who was drafted #1 by the Boston Celtics, died in a tragic drug related incident. There are a handful of others as well.
Even with those memories, and others stuck in my mind, none is more poignant than the memory of September 11th. I had lived in Austin just over seven months and the LAF had recently moved into an old Victorian home. I get up early so I was in the car on the way to the office when I heard something on NPR about a small plane crash in NYC. Given my own personal fear of flying, I immediately rushed into my office and turned on my small 13 inch television, which was only really used to watch cancer related education videos that people would send to the LAF to review. I immediately found NBC news and began watching the breaking developments. I tried to call several friends who worked very close to the World Trade Center and all circuits were down. I sat watching as the second plane hit the second tower.
That moment I will never forget. Sitting stunned. Speechless. Staring at a small television wondering what would happen next.
I will also never forget that morning because I was due to meet a local Austin entrepreneur named Scott Abel who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Scott came to the office, bald from treatment, and we sat in my office and watched the news as it developed. At the time, the LAF had only seven employees and we had a Board of Directors of just three individuals. The Board was set to meet later that morning and I recall all three members (Founding Chairman Jeff Garvey, Lee Walker, and Lance) Scott, myself, and my LAF colleagues being glued to the television.
As we reflect on those horrific attacks, we remember those whom we lost that day, we mourn for those families who were forever changed, we honor those who served not only in NYC during the attack and its aftermath, but also those who continue to serve our nation on behalf of our freedom and liberty.