I do remember the morning of September 11, 2001 very vividly, as do most Americans who were old enough to have witnessed it.  I was up early that morning as I had an early flight from Orange County to Oakland for an insurance authority meeting.  On television, as did thousands of  Americans watched, I saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center, but in the beginning the news people thought it was either a small plane or an accident of some sort.  

I made my way to the airport and boarded my plane; however, just before we took off the second plane hit the second tower and all flights in the U.S.A. were grounded.  It was very eery because we did not push back from the gate and suddenly people started getting up from their seats, using their cell phones, and word spread that the World Center second tower had been hit and all planes were to stay on the ground or land, immediately.  The mass exodus from the airport was very chaotic.  Cindy had left for school and her aide did not know anything had happened.  It was a surprise and shock, of course.  She called both of our boys to make sure they were alright.  I remember being glued to the T V all day at work and everyone being very sad or crying most of the day.  It was indeed a terrible point in the history of this country.

About three weeks after 9-11, my wife Cindy flew to New York to try to convince our son, Peter, to stay in school at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was a plebe (freshman).  He wanted desperately to quit school and join the U.S. Army immediately to help in any way he could.  She was able to convince him to stay put, and today, fourteen years later Peter is a Major in Army Special Forces.  They traveled down to New York City to see the damage of the soon to be named Ground Zero, and were amazed by what they saw and witnessed.  The damage was, of course, still very prevalent and people were still wandering around the site looking for lost relatives. The devastation was horrible!  All in all, it was a horrific experience for all involved! It gave our son the resolve, to stay in school and become an U.S. Army officer, now with four tours in foreign lands, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

I attended the 9-11 Memorial service this Friday morning at Big Bear High School, as I always have on this date since we became Big Bear Lake residents.  I was very impressed with how the students remembered those fallen first-responders and victims of this horrible crime.  

Most of these high school kids were just toddlers or babies in 2001, so it was very poignant the way they praised and remembered this day.  Every American and especially residents of Big Bear Valley should be very proud of our students. They have never forgotten what happened on that September day, even though they may not recall about the threat to our United States of America.  

We, Americans should never forget what happened and not allow history to be rewritten to somehow blame our country and its policies for what happened.

Those at Ground Zero were innocent people and first-responders who did not deserve what happened to them.  Many showed extraordinary courage in the face of certain death and we should always remember and honor their sacrifice.  


City of Big Bear Lake Mayor David Caretto

September 11, 2015