‘Let’s roll!’

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

Back in September of 2001, I never would have believed our country would allow Islamic extremist to carry out their war of hate from right here within America. Not only that, but we are protecting the very people that hate everything about this country. The enemy has astutely learned to use our own laws and protections against us.

I remember 9/11/2001 almost like it was yesterday. I had moved to Pensacola, FL exactly six months prior to that God forsaken day. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning as I drove along Bayfront Parkway on my way to the massive M.C. Blanchard Judicial Center for a full day of court hearings.

The sun rising over Pensacola Bay was a beautiful sight every day, but that morning’s view could have come straight from a painting. The sun was hoovering above the water filled horizon with a backdrop of orange, pink and blue pastels. I could not tell where the Earth ended and Heaven began. 

I made that same drive five days a week, but that morning brought back memories of when I had packed all my belongings and departed Oxford headed south for an exciting new life.

During that morning’s drive, this Mississippi boy truly believed he had found heaven on Earth. I had no way of knowing a day that started so beautifully would end with such devastation.

I arrived to the courthouse at my normal 7:15 a.m. to get everything set-up for a full day, and was going about my business when a cohort mentioned that a passenger plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I remember being shocked at first, but thinking it was a terrible accident. But, boy was I wrong.

Five minutes after we started  hearings, the phone at the judge’s desk rang, and with utter surprise his honor answered with a curt scowl, but that only lasted a moment.

His face quickly changed from anger back to surprise, and without even speaking he hung up with a bewildered look. After the moment of silence, he ordered everyone to leave everything and evacuate the building immediately. 

I had no idea what was going on at that moment, but if you have spent any time working with judges you know to do what they say when they say.

Everyone dropped what they were doing and headed to the exits on the 5th floor. Once outside, I called my office and was informed of the ongoing terrorists attacks and to go somewhere safe.

Even though we were over a thousand miles away from the attacks, there was real fear of what could happen locally.

The Panhandle of Florida is best known for its beautiful beaches and gorgeous emerald waters. A lesser known fact, the panhandle is home to 10 very important military installations, some of the most secure and secretive Department of Defense sites in the country and some are not even known by the civilians that pass them every day.

The biggest, Eglin AFB, is the largest U.S. Military base in the world. From this one base came the concepts and testing for most of the devastating bombs dropped throughout the Middle East. So, legitimate concerns of local targets existed.

I found a television just in time to witness people jumping over 100 stories to their deaths moments before the first tower collapsed to the ground.

I did not understand at that moment, but the terrorist’s attacks of that day shook our country to the very core. I believe our enemies learned something important that day. They learned that no matter how brutal the attack is, attacking our country head-on is a grave mistake. It became clear the way to attack our country is from the inside, just as they are now.

We must come together like the days following the 9/11 attacks and stop this nonsense that is tearing us apart. Whatever that requires I repeat this amazingly American quote from 9/11, “let’s roll!”