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Defend Thyself

G&A Retrospective: How 9/11 Affected National and Personal Defense

by Richard Nance   |  September 10th, 2012 22

Eleven years later, One World Trade Center rises from the plot formerly occupied by the Twin Towers, a reminder of Americans' will to persevere in the wake of unspeakable tragedy.

When I awoke on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was excited to begin a much-anticipated, two-week police weaponless defense instructor course. I stopped by the police station to grab a cup of coffee and some equipment before I headed to a nearby regional training center. While at the station, I watched the news in disbelief, first as one plane, then another, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

As a drove to the training site, my mind was not on arrest and control techniques, nor defensive tactics, but rather on the obvious loss of life resulting from the attack by a then-unknown enemy, and the uncertainty that was sure to follow in the days ahead.

I was immediately concerned for my friend and fellow officer, who was flying back from vacation on the morning of Sept. 11 to attend the training course. When my friend arrived just prior to the start of training, I told him I was glad he was OK and that I had been worried about him. Ironically, despite having just flown on a commercial airline, my friend had no idea that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center.

As they say, the show must go on. During that first day of training, we focused on the task at hand, which was to learn new techniques that we would later pass on to officers at our respective agencies. But during every break, officers huddled around the only accessible television and wondered who was responsible for such an act of unimaginable cowardice.

I, like many other Americans, naively assumed that those responsible for the act would be identified and brought to justice in short order. It never crossed my mind that the mastermind who attacked innocent civilians on American soil would elude capture for nearly a decade.

Sept. 11 forced this country to acknowledge its vulnerability to acts of terrorism on its own soil. No longer was terrorism an abstract idea to Americans. Instead, it was a very real threat to the security of our nation and its people. Many Americans could not comprehend why anyone would hate us enough to attack innocent civilians, though then-President George W. Bush summed up the terrorists’ motivation by stating, “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”

The attacks of Sept. 11 instilled fear in the hearts and minds of Americans, but more importantly, it also strengthened our resolve to fight for the freedoms upon which America was founded. There was a newfound respect for emergency responders, many of whom gave their lives “just doing their job” that day.

Sept. 11 was all the proof America needed that pure evil still exists in our modern society, but the responsibility for protecting American citizens does not rest solely on the shoulders of law enforcement and military personnel. The heroic actions displayed by the passengers of United Flight 93 saved countless lives, and 11 years later, they serve as a reminder that some things are worth dying for, and that sometimes it is the individual citizen — not the government — who must intervene to save the day.

Sept. 11, 2001, changed this country forever. Let us not forget the nearly 3,000 Americans whose lives were cut tragically short that fateful morning, nor the thousands of Americans whose loved ones’ lives were unfairly taken.

  • Charles


  • Karl

    God bless the first responders who, at a moments notice, "moved to the sound of the guns" and entered the horror to help others. The bravery of the people of Flight 93 is the stuff of legend. The actions those Americans that day rank right up there with the Alamo!

  • Frank

    Not even Retired Police Officers that were there on that hellish day to help can not enter the site legally armed. They are turned away from this sacred site. What a disgrace.

  • Kyle Meier

    We cannot forget what made this country what it is. The right to defend ourselves and the will to fight back. Just as the brave souls on Flight 93 did. And as seal team 6 did to bring justice to osama.

  • Captain America

    Unfortunately the TRUTH is still not getting out to the public. WTC buildings 1 & 2 were hit by airplanes, but they were brought down by controlled demolition, just like building 7. The TRUTH is out there. Watch the documentaries on YouTube, "9/11: Explosive Evidence," etc. It wasn't Osama Bin Laden. It's sad that the TRUTH is still being suppressed. Wake up people!!!

    • Semper Fi

      Captian America. You are an idiot.

    • Loach Pilot

      You've been reading too many comic books, Captain America. Either that or your mask is on too tight.

    • Dale Bailey

      STUPID is too mild ,but I don't want to be deleted.But you should be deleted,Not your psychotic ramblings,….YOU!

    • Mack Missiletoe

      Your name should be Captain Anti-America XD

      You wouldn't believe the truth if you saw it live on national television.


    Captain America your tights are to tight.

    • tiny4

      They are way to tight, but this is good, hopefully this will keep him from being able reproduce and futher harm the gene pool!

  • Ken del Valle

    I have always wonderted how the highjackers were able to cower several plane loads of people into compliance with box openers. Although one group did famously fight back it did so to late to save itself.

    I think that at the time Americans generally though the Government could and would always protect us. Thus we had let what ever fighting spirit and plain old American toughness we had… wither with disuse.

    I think we all learned the lesson that fighting toughness is just as necessary as other social skills and I think the rise in concealed carry is part of that. We must learn to associate resiliance and toughness with good citizenship.
    By toughness I do not mean aggressiveness or bullying. I mean law abiding, common sense comportment combined with the will and the ability to respond to attack. We must all strive to make that concept synonymous with good citizenship.

    My tears for those that perished and my condolences to the survivors.

  • T.D. Honeycutt

    We shall never forget the first responders. There's a lesson in United Flight 93 from 11 years ago. There were no law-enforcement officers on that flight, and Average Joe citizens took the initiative and forced the hijackers off the intended course, reportedly the White House.
    Research indicates that mass terror incidents more often are stopped or impeded by citizen response. If people are too afraid, and wait for law-enforcement, more and or greater loss of life can occur. Take responsibility for the safety and security of your loved ones, co-workers, fellow worshippers, family and friends. Do not hesitate to fight for good when the terrorists – urban or international – come knocking.

  • Joseph

    All honor and respect should go out to the first responders of 9/11/2001, and to all subsequent and current first responders. These brave men and women are the ones that stand the ground and help keep us safe. However, at the same time the events of 9/11 should have taught Americans one basic lesson: We must be self-sufficient and able to take care of ourselves as much as possible, pull together as a team, and understand that our Government cannot do it all. Hurricane Katrina is just one more example of the Government's inability to care for its citizens, both before and after a natural disaster. Unfortunately, sometimes in these type of situations first responders leave their post, fail to assist those they are sworn to protect and serve, or actually violate the rights of these same civilians. So, Americans should continue to prepare themselves, be vigilant, ensure they have the supplies , etc. necessary to survive and to keep themselves safe, and to not expect assistance from local or Federal agencies.

  • raazorblade

    Compliancey and unarmed citizens…… can we say Aurora, Colorado………

  • Jerry B.

    Basic Rules
    Never let any crazies bust into the airplane pilots door.

    When deprived of civilized accurate weapons remember anything can be a weapon. Someone with a knife is easier if you pick up an old ladies heavy purse and throw it at his face just before kicking his favorite parts.

    If a junkyard dog is needed then become that junkyard dog. Better yet do not patronize anyplace that does not allow honest civilized people to carry modern handguns. (including National Parks).

    Forget the previous definitions of “minimum necessary force”. Sometimes the new definition is “when in serious imminent danger, once you have eliminated that danger, anything extra is excessive”. Maybe.

    This being the modern America I will deny ever saying this if necessary. Always follow the laws. Even the ones that have not been passed yet and might become retroactive once passed, and no one informed. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  • Dave Hicks

    its very easy in Hindsight to tell people how to react in a situation
    in the moment that it happens, none of that matters.
    It boils down to reaction, training and muscle memory.
    That is why LEO's practice the close quarters draw and shoot
    over an over, develop that memory to where there is no thought
    only reaction before you ever know it happened.
    Personally I can't help but wonder how anybody would react knowing
    they are going to die, do you pray, do you take the bastards with you
    see it's a personal choice. Me, I take as many with me as an honor guard
    as I can bring along.

  • Jim

    Passengers are told to listen and obey flight crew and any demands from Hijacker-Terrorists.
    If you give them any crap, they may take their anger out on you or another passenger.

    The bad guys used this to their advantage, as well as our govt multiple layers of red tape and
    rules or lack of them for passing on vital information to those that can make command decisions.

    When the word got out a plane hit WTC, that was no accident, everyone up there knows that
    planes do not fly there, something was not right. To see that second plane impact the tower was
    a cowardly act indeed.

    It was unfortunate that airlines had better security at their executive suites and data centers then
    the standard doors to the flight deck. The door problem has been addressed.

    Pilots can carry but they must go through layers of red tape and paperwork to do so.
    This needs to change or we will be in trouble again.

    • Dale Bailey

      Jim ,you must remember the first rule of sheep survival…try to get as many others between you and the wolves and hope they tire of killing before they get to you.It's somewhat like hoping that the Iranian nukes are used first on Jerusalem so the elites in D.C. can hide in shelters as the rest of America suffers a radio active death.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    Now there's 2 guns behind every blade of grass.

    I love America :D

  • jeepers creepers

    My heart goes out to the fire fighters and OMT's that lost their lives on that day. The people on the four planes.
    God bless you. You are remembered.

  • Starky

    The atrocities that occured on 9-11 shall never be forgotten. And we must never forget. My heart goes out to all those who lost and suffered. Those of us old enough to remember, remember the hijackings from several decades ago. It seemed every time we turned on the news another plane was hijacked. Those events created the need for the US Marshalls Service to create the Sky Marchalls. A program which worked and brought an end to the hijackings. It worked so well the Feds forgot the purpose of it and brought an end to the Sky Marchalls. If the Marshalls would hve still been on those planes could it have been a differant outcome. Please don't take this the wrong way, yah I know should have, could have , would have, but as it has been said Those who forget the past are destine to relive it. It is sad that we as Americans learn more from tragedy then from experience. Let's hope we never have to relive or experience anything like 9-11 again.

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