Heather Obernolte gave this speech at the 9/11 Ceremony 2018, Big Bear High School.


will they live in?’


June 6th, 1944 - the Normandy - D-day Invasion

December 7th, 1941 - the Attack on Pearl Harbor

September 11th, 2001 



All of these dates have one thing in common.  Those that lived through them can tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing and how they felt when these momentous events happened.  September 11, 2001,   began just like every other morning. As a mom with two babies under age three, I was finishing up getting them fed, starting to get ready for the day. My mom called and told me to turn on the TV.  I turned it on just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. I watched in shock then I looked at my boys and wondered, What kind of a world will they live in?’ 

Later that day, I received a call from my brother in Boston, to tell me how much he loves me. I found out he was scheduled to be on United Airlines flight #; which was the plane that I had watched hit the south tower. It is the same flight he has flown, Boston to Los Angeles every month for years.  He had begrudgingly canceled his flight two days earlier to stay in town for a difficult meeting that he was not looking forward to attending. 

We all have our story to tell.  Each of our lives has changed profoundly since that morning, but why do we continue to hold this remembrance ceremony every year?  Why is it significant for a generation of kids that don’t remember a life before 9/11 and many here today, were not even born when these events occurred, to hold this observance?


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We do this, because it is important to teach the next generation, not only what happened on 9/11. Why?  Also, the lessons We learned and how We have been able to rebuild and restore America, from the ashes of 9/11.  We came together as a nation!  We cried together!  We mourned together and We learned together! Now, We must continue those lessons, some good, some bad, for all to remember. 

The first lesson is, to tell loved ones and friends how much you love them and how special they are to you. Sometimes we get busy in our lives and neglect the relationships that mean the most to us, because we take for granted that they will always be there- harder lesson… Terrorism has many faces. Whether it is Osama bin Laden, Stephen Paddock, or a female suicide bomber, terrorism has many faces, and we must never judge a book by its cover.

We learned that America is vulnerable!   Terrorism is now a fact of life for everyone.  As a nation, we were aware of terrorist activities in foreign lands, but did not expect them at home. Unfortunately, terrorism is here, as well as, here to stay!   

BUT, We learned not to let the terrorists win.  If we hide and alter our lives, greatly because of the fear that has been generated by these attacks, we will be helping the terrorists accomplish their goals.  Life is short, and we should try to lead normal lives, as much as possible, without fear.

We learned that Terrorism affects everyone!  Depression afflicted many people following the terrorist attacks. There is an uneasy sense of loss of control and sadness that many cannot process. We need to keep an eye out for all of our friends and loved ones during such times. 


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We also know there is hope; we can all do our part. There is a greater need for a higher level of personal security and awareness. Be aware of your surroundings and speak-up, if you witness anything suspicious.

We know that, We must support the men and women of our military. Service members and their families are risking their lives for our country and our freedom. We owe it to them to support their sacrifice unconditionally.

We now know that We are at our best, when times are at their worst. People donated money, gave blood, flew flags and were truly proud of our great country.  

Americans' ability to come together in times of need, is truly heartwarming. The best thing we learned is that Heroes are everywhere!   The many brave and selfless acts of fire-fighters, flight attendants, co-workers, passers-by and volunteers proved that Americans are generous with their courage and that Heroes are all around us!   

It is with respect and gratitude for our first responders that I would like to take a moment to acknowledge those that are here with us today. As I mention your group, please stand or raise a hand to be recognized. 

We have with us today active Military members… Veterans… U.S. Forest Services… Fire-Fighters- Hot Shots… Law Enforcement… Fire Agencies.  

THANK YOU, Heather!  Editor E T Russell