9/11: Standing Between Good and Evil

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

That’s a question I see and hear everywhere on this day, each and every year that passes.

Most likely, many of you recollect watching the horrible scenario unfold on the television sets in your homes or offices.

Me, I was inside a federal holding facility in Northern Va., chatting with group of deputy sheriffs and U.S. Marshals. On my right were a row of holding cells occupied by local and federal prisoners. A small portable television sat on a wall-mounted shelf facing the control booth, but it was also positioned in a manner that allowed the prisoners to see. Most of the inmates there were federal prisoners who were awaiting transport to various prisons across the U.S.

The typical Judge Judy or Jerry Springer or Judge Joe Brown show cut away to a breaking news report. Normal jailhouse chatter stopped while everyone stared at what appeared to be a still shot of the world Trade Centers.

Roiling and boiling black and gray smoke poured from a gaping hole high up on one of the towers. Everyone watched in total disbelief. Had a plane veered off course? Then, when yet another plane struck the second tower and it was immediately obvious that these acts were planned attacks, well …

I was very near a cell where group of prisoners quickly leapt to their feet and began to wildly and bizarrely cheer at the deadly assault on our nation. They clapped and laughed and playfully punched their fellow cellmates on the arms, and they patted one another on the back as if watching a sporting event where their favorite player had just scored a game-winning point.

Then it dawned on me. This was indeed a game-winning point for them. They’d just scored a beat-the-buzzer three-pointer. Scored a touchdown. Hit a home run. A hole-in-one.

This group of men hated the U.S. with a passion and they were overjoyed—giddy—at the death and destruction.

I’ll never forget that moment. Not ever.

For me, today is a day of remembrance and reverence for those who lost their lives on that day, both innocent people inside the towers and the brave men and women who perished while attempting to save people they’d never met—strangers of all races and religions.

To this day, many first responders and others involved in search and rescue efforts still suffer both physical and mental effects. They’re lives are forever changed.

I also remember those loud cheers and laughter and the pleasure those prisoners felt when they knew thousands of Americans were dead. I saw the looks in their eyes. They hated us with all their might.

Where are those men now? Who knows, but I’d bet my last dollar that they still hate us and want us dead. Without a doubt, many of them walk and live among us.

I’m grateful for the men and women who place their lives on the line for us each and every day to keep us safe and to protect our rights and our lives. Many have lost their own lives doing just that.

Today I choose to remember the lives lost and those who still suffer.

But I cannot forget the looks in the eyes of those prisoners. Cold. Ruthless. Uncaring.

So where was I on 9/11?

Standing between good and evil, and close enough to the Pentagon to see the plumes of black smoke rising on the horizon.


*Visit the 9/11 Memorial.

8 replies
  1. Lelia T
    Lelia T says:

    Oh my, I thought I had felt all the emotions tied to that day but this is shocking to me. I just had no idea that such a scenario happened and I hope this was a sort of mob effect and not reflective of how most prisoners felt. They certainly weren’t in happy situations but I would like to think such hatred of our country and so many innocent people wasn’t and isn’t widespread in the prison system. Perhaps I’m being overly naive.

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      It wasn’t all prisoners, Lelia. Others/most were just as horrified as were the majority of people. By the way, this same sentiment is not limited to those who are incarcerated. We see this on TV, online, and print news reports almost daily.

  2. Chloe Ducharme
    Chloe Ducharme says:

    Was at Castle Howard in Yorkshire and all were gobsmacked. Brits were so kind. And, on the 13 th back in London several people overheard my friend and I with American accents and walked up and grabbed and hugged us. Yes, Londoners can hug in public. We learned that was more than an American tragedy

  3. Chrs Caldwell
    Chrs Caldwell says:

    This isn’t the first time one of your posts has brought me new information, tears to my eyes and a cold chill down my back.
    A week ago I was on vacation in New York City and made my first pilgrimage–that’s how it felt– to the 9/11 memorial. When the towers fell I watched from the opposite coast in stunned horror. The memorial brought home the enormity of our loss, including over 400 first responders…oh, my. I honor them too.

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