Where Were You?

Twin Towers

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…

Pass It On – September 9, 2019


I was in the basement conference room at the Millennium hotel in downtown St. Louis.

Where Were You… The Pass It On for September 9th, 2019… brought to you by Pass One Hour Heating & Air… here’s Francis Pass…

I was attending a customer service training event. Me and 150 other people from all across the country.

I remember that we had just taken a break… and as I wandered into the lobby, I heard a lot of commotion from people gathered around a few TV sets. As I tried to get a glimpse of the images flickerin’ across the screen, I heard the people around me uttering words like “airplanes” and “explosion” and “World Trade Center.”

The date was September 11, 2001.

Once I finally understood what had happened, I thought to myself… my gosh, what a terrible accident.

And then… the second plane hit. And I went numb.

And Then I Went Numb

I was brought to my senses by Carl, our customer service trainer, who was shouting, “Alright, everybody back into the classroom.”

Carl, was an ex-Army Ranger who taught hand-to-hand combat down at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was a no-nonsense kinda guy. I liked that about him.

Carl calmly and considerately explained to us that it was no coincidence two planes hit two separate towers, side by side. He assured us our government and the US military would find out what was going on and take swift action. “BUT,” he said. “We were going to do what we came here to do.”

I appreciated his candor. And I know he was trying to help. But I honestly don’t remember anything else we learned that morning. My mind was elsewhere.

My Mind Was Elsewhere

All flights were grounded. And since fuel was suddenly in short supply, nobody could even rent a car. Phones were overloaded, so people were asked to not make any outbound calls… which was sad because we had attendees who lived in New York. Some of them even had family and friends who worked in those towers.

I pride myself on being a good citizen and following the rules… but I was 120 miles from home, and I simply had to call in to check with my wife in case she hadn’t heard the news. But our grandson had already told her about the tragedy.

I was fearful I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it back home. I pulled into a gas station in Okawville and sat in one of the longest fuel lines I’d ever seen. The price of gas had instantly doubled, a price I was happy to pay just so I could get back on the road.

That day, I experienced emotions that I hadn’t felt in over 30 years. To me, 9/11 took me back to Vietnam. We, as a country, had been ambushed. I knew what that felt like… so that’s how my brain perceived it.

It was an assault on our democratic society, our freedom, and our liberty.

It Was An Assault

As Americans, we enjoy many wonderful liberties.

The liberty to go here, there, or anywhere.

The liberty to voice our opinions.

The liberty to defend our homes and our families.

And when those liberties are threatened or taken away, the weaker we become.

I felt like some of our liberties had been taken away that day.

But even the darkest of days can bring about something phenomenal. And as the smoke cleared and the ash settled, I saw our country come together in ways I never thought possible.

It’s sad that it took a horrific act to finally force us to get along and do what was right to help our fellow man.

The Millennial hotel, that’s where I was.

Where were you?

Thanks for reading/listening.

I’m Francis Pass.

Oh. And P.S. – Many people have told me that the 9/11 memorial and museum in New York City is incredibly moving. I hope you and I can pay a visit one of these days.

9/11 Memorial Museum