Still remembering, 14 years later

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, September 10, 2015

By Chris A. Quilpa

As our country solemnly observes the Day of Remembrance commemorating the attacks of 9/11/2001, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of those attacks in U.S. and world history.

What happened and why? Did it have to happen? Could it have been prevented?

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Let’s pray for our beloved dead, innocent and unassuming in their passing. Let’s pray their families and friends have finally found closure and moved on with their lives.

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?

How did you find out about it? What was your first reaction when you heard or learned about it? Were you sad and mad? Upset and terrified?

The power of remembering is overwhelming. It is attributable to having a healthy brain and a sound mind. Remembering is a cognitive function of the mind. The power of remembering involves mental health.

We don’t forget. We vividly remember what we witnessed or saw on TV that day. That day was truly unforgettable. Our minds recorded and stored details of events, people and things connected to it.

Remembering enables us to reconnect with others as we recollect past events, especially those associated with calamities, both natural and man-made.

The magnitude of those terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 and injured more than 6,000, left an indelible mark on the psyche of people around the world. It’s impact was social, spiritual, economic and political, and the world responded with support in each of those areas.

Like the memories of others, my own memory of 9/11 is filtered through the lens of my personal situation at the time: I was working in the radiology department at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth. As a hospital corpsman and X-ray tech in the U.S. Navy, I was working on our training records in the employee lounge, where we had a television mounted in the corner. I was alone, and the TV was off. A co-worker came in and shared the news, turning the television on and tuning it to NBC’s “Today Show.”

Civilian and military employees soon filled the room. Work stopped completely in the department. In utter disbelief of what we saw, all we could say was, “Oh my God, oh my God … Noooo!” We were all in shock. After about 20 or 30 minutes, everyone left quietly, one by one. There was a sadness on our faces that we couldn’t hide.

Remembering 9/11 brings back one of the unforgettable memories of my 11 years at NMCP. A recollection of it makes me quiver and sad.

May the souls of our faithful departed brothers and sisters, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. And may God bless us always.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at