On Sept. 11, 2001 I was an NYPD fingerprint technician. When two planes slammed into the World Trade Center, I rushed to the scene not knowing if my brother, an FDNY captain, was alive or dead. My brother was alive, but my childhood friend Mike Armstrong was lost that day. I think of him often.
Mike and I were both born and raised in Manhattan. Together, we saw the towers rise, then fall.
When I think of Mike, I think of the 10 Thanksgivings, Christmas holidays, New Years celebrations, birthdays and the birth of his child he missed. I think of his family and the empty place that will always be where he once was.
Many people think this was just a New York City event. But they sadly miss the point: other locations were hit that day. They forget that two wars have been fought within the last decade over that day and all the Americans we’ve lost on the battlefield because of it.
I just buried another friend, Police Officer George Wong. He died from cancer. First responders like George are still becoming ill from that day. How, then, can we forget?
The chaos that I witnessed has stayed with me to this day. If people begin to forget, they should be ashamed.