Post Thoughts on 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, better known simply as 9/11. There will be memorial events held here in San Jose, throughout the nation and even outside the United States, as the 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives that day from terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 are honored. Also to be honored are those who risked their lives responding to the attacks, and the men and women serving in wars overseas.

Every generation has its “where were you?” moment, when something monumental happened and in the blink of an eye a person can recall exactly what he or she was doing. For some, it might be V-J Day, or the moon landing, or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Or, maybe more regional, it could be the Loma Prieta earthquake. (I was living in Missouri at the time, so it barely registered on my radar.)

But on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I know exactly what I was doing when a plane ripped through the first of the twin towers. I was sleeping on my couch in a disgusting apartment not far from my college campus. A friend of mine had no place to stay and was sleeping on the floor in the same room. Cell phones were just becoming the norm, and it’s a good thing my friend had one. He received a call from his mother, who said a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

He relayed the news to me and I said, “Again?”

I assumed it was on the same scale as a bombing at the WTC during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Being the lazy college student that I was at the time, I shrugged and went back to bed.

It wasn’t until more calls started coming in, one after another, that my friend and I realized we had better find a house with a television. The rest of the day, I was glued to the screen like everyone else in the country. I felt ashamed that I had been sleeping the whole time the attacks were happening.

The television footage was shocking, frightening and produced a unified sense of anger that this act should not go unpunished. How the country has exacted any revenge or justice is in the eye of the beholder. Osama bin Laden is dead now, and the country seemed to exhale a small sigh of relief with news of the terrorist’s death. A new threat has been reported for this Sunday as “credible, but not confirmed,” so security levels will certainly be high in New York city and other major metropolitan areas.

Let’s hope the day goes by without incident. The 10th anniversary is an important milestone in the healing process for Americans, who are never as unified on any issue as they are about being respectful to those who died or lost loved ones on 9/11.

There’s no real grand message to impart here, just an invitation to offer any thoughts you might have on what happened that day 10 years ago and where we are now.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Where we are now? We have a mayor, city manager and a majority of the city council in San Jose who villainizes public safety at every opportunity.

  2. I think that it’s time to move on as a country.  Stop being victims.  Sure, the families of those who died ten years ago should be mournful and hold ceremnies of rememberance…but the rest of us need to get on with it.  Deny our enemies the satisfaction of dwelling and reliving the attack.  A full week of wallowing in a sort of self-indugant “victimhood.”
    “Let’s Roll!”

  3. Towers of Love

    Towers of Love do not yield
    Though evil could fly it provided no answers
    No God with them
    No Love No Hope

    Now Blue Skies But Blue Hearts Still
    Children no longer weep
    Their silence speaks in thoughts, private
    Moving on but remembering that moment when Love ended in a moment

    Saints the many, departed too soon
    Perched now in memories
    Youth and dreams undone now germinate like so many flying seeds
    Touching all –old and young, those there then and those not
    Reaching those who were then just yet to be
    Such is the fate of heroes and saints
    Such is the fate of sons and daughters, mothers and wives, fathers and husbands pulled with no warning from Love

    In tomorrows, those who hear will ask new questions
    They will wonder, and think with new hearts, not scarred
    Who were they?
    How did it………?

    Those of then and now will remember and tell
    Some will cry again, some will laugh, but all will remember
    Eyebrows raised, heads tilted, jaws clenched, hands folded, eyes open wide, tears appearing

    And more will know
    And more will tell
    And more will remember
    Remembering as children grow and their children grow
    Placing the memories in that sacred trust of Love
    To be brought out on special occasions

    Memories will weave themselves deep in hearts and minds
    Remembering, personal and strong
    Love conquered, evil passed on
    Love remained here
    Love found the new and the wonderful
    Love grew up
    Love grew old
    But Love remembered
    And, in the end, only Love remained

    September 11, 2011

  4. Lets villainize Public safety one more time by putting “pension Reform” on the ballot and dont forget to title it “To maintain Fiscal Responsibility” that way every voter will vote for responsibility! The City of san Jose is longer the “Choice employer” and REED YOU voted for it as Council and Mayor!

  5. I took the opportunity to walk the area around Ground Zero yesterday, and visited the Tribute 9/11 exhibit across the street. Listening to the replays of the 911 calls and radio chatter among the first responders is a moving experience.

    The bravery of those who selflessly carried out their duties cannot be belittled by people calling capitulation in the battle against terrorism. The alternative is unacceptable.

    I will never forget.

    • Well put Pat. Sadly here there is very little respect for those putting themselves in harms way. I look forward to visiting NYC soon.

  6. Where are we now???We Live in a city that Blames its problems on its very own employees.We live in a city that will break laws, skirt rules ,and disregard its obligations to its workers and residents.We live in a city where the Mayor has been a part of city council for @ least 13 years,and accepts no blame or responsability for his part in ruining this city.we live in a city where the city council says they want everything out in the open , But Deal behind closed doors . We live in a city that villainizes its P.D. & F.D. , to try and push their own agenda.We live in a city where unfortunately we have 1 newspaper(that is in cohoots with the mayor) that couldnt print an unbiased article if it tried. We live in a city where the mayor will give a speech today about 9/11 , P.D. , F.D.  & about honor ,duty ,sacrifice………….words he simply doesnt understand!we live in a city that unfortunately is in a downword spiral.Thank you ,Mayor Reed,D. Figone,City Council,Mayor McEnery,B. Swensen.

  7. As much as I wanted to go to the 911 ceramonies, I could not stand listening to the major say his speech about Public Safety, then say how they gave their lives and such, only to know everyone is on the “Gravy Train” as he sees it. Carma is a Bitch.
    Good God when is this guy going to leave?

  8. Did he thank her for being named assistant chief?  He really didn’t say he was the chief did he?  Have to give him points for saying he was the chief.  Maybe he is coming out of his shell.  We thought the last one was bad huh?

  9. I attended San Jose’s 9/11 ceremony and found Chief Moore’s speech sad.  Of all the people to acknowledge by name in a speech on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Chief Moore thanked Deb Figone for giving him the job as chief.  Is Ms. Figone so vain as to expect her employees to thank her on 9/11?  Is our chief so insecure in his job that he must forgo naming any of the many heroes of 9/11 to thank Ms. Figone instead?  Chief Moore needs to stand up and demonstrate he serves the entire community, not just one unelected city bureaucrat.

    • Moore is pathetic and has ZERO respect within the walls at 201 W. Mission. He prefers to build his resume and prepare for his next job than exercise REAL leadership.

  10. A very moving memorial to our fallen heros, and our country. I felt I was in a safe place, surronded by so many of our finest.
      Fire House #1 is Americana, at it’s very finest.
      “We Will Always Remember”!
      Thank You For your protection, and your dedication
      to all of Us.
      A prayer for your comdrades and
      their families who were lost, in this most tragic of events!
      The Village Black Smith

  11. As much as I wanted to attend the 9/11 Memorial . I could not fathom the idea of listening to our Dishonorable Mayor Reed talk of service, duty,courage,gratitude for the heroes of 9/11, all the while doing everything he can to minimize, & destroy our own Police & Fire Depts.He has done nothing but lie to the residents about fiscal emergencies, and pensions, but fails to tell them that the city of San Jose Has the Highest credit rating Available(Even higher than the Federal Government)or that the pension system is underfunded because the city of San Jose Never Paid their contributions into the pension system.this city is in the toilet directly because of the Mayor,who has been on council for the last 12 years!

    All this and He wants to stand up there and give some fake speech,that nobody will believe or trust in. Instead I chose to be with Family and explain to my Kids what 9/11 was about. to tell them of the people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for others Police Officers, Firefighters , Ems & countless others. to teach them of Honor,Duty,Responsibility,Courage and Family. A lesson the Mayor and City manager and Council never learned

    • I can agree with most of your post except “that the pension system is underfunded because the city of San Jose Never Paid their contributions into the pension system.”  That statement is just not true.  You can read the auditors report or look at the yearly reports.  I would just hope the City would be open to negotiations to find fair solutions rather than force a ballot measure.  However, both sides need to look at the real facts.  Let us never forget the sacrifices by those Firefighters and Police officers on 911.

      • Here is my own “Auditors Report.” I took my own retirement account information and audited it, now I will report it.

        20 years of service with the city.

        I contributed aboout $163k. The account says my $163 earned about $18k in interest for a total of $181k.

        The account also “SAYS” that the City contributed about $326k over the same 20 years on my behalf. That $326k (according to the account) shows it earned EXACTLY $0.00 (zero!) in interest!

        The total balance is about $507k.

        Now as the Auditor I have a few questions:

        1) why did my contributions earn interest while the City’s earned NONE?

        2) Did the City make its contribution to the retierment fund? OR did The City deposit the money in another account that IS earning interest?  An Account that maybe the City withdraws the interest its contrirutions earn? Dot they wait until i retire to deposit only the principle intothe retirement fund?

        Is this the real reason why the pension fund is actuarily underfunded?

        3) Is the City just keeping track of its share of the contributions with the intent of having to budget then find the money it needs to pay me when I retire?  and, IS THIS the reason why the pension fund is actuarily underfunded?

        4) is there another explanation for why my retirement account shows the City contributed $326k but that contribution has (to date) not earned a penny in interest?

        • I had asked that question of the person helping with my City retirement.  Your statement shows no interest in the City contribution because that interest belongs to the entire fund, not you individualy.  If you were to cash out your retirement, you would get your contribution plus interest and the City contribution with no interest which is what your statement states.  The City contributions do collect interest for the plan and does not go back to the City.  The City’s required contributions are collected annually and become part fo the entire fund.  As far as I have been told, the City has made all their required contributions for the last 11 years running.

        • “If you were to cash out your retirement, you would get your contribution plus interest and the City contribution with no interest which is what your statement states.”

          Here’s from the CSJ Retirement Services website FAQs:

          Can I withdraw the contributions my employer makes on my behalf?

          No, you can never withdraw employer (CSJ) contributions.  The only way you can garner a benefit from them is by retiring from the system.

          Your personal contributions are yours, however the only way to collect any of the City’s contributions is to retire from City service and draw a monthly pension.

        • I discussed this similar issue with my co-workers regarding the CSJ Annual Retirement Member Statements sent to its employees.

          I looked as far as back as more than 15 years and the City’s interest accrued share did not earn nothing – ZERO? Is the accrued interest of the City’s share being skimmed? To where? By whom?

          That is the reason the City Retirement system is underfunded !!!

          City Auditor or anyone from Retiremnet Services care to explain !!!!

          Smells like ENRON accounting…jedi knight cooking of the books!!!

  12. Went to NY in 2005 and checked out the pit where the world trade center was (which I had visited earlier as a kid.)  In terms of remembering the tragedy, I’m split on this as its good to remember the sacrifice of the first responders that day and the way our nation rallied in the days/months afterwards, but its was not and should not be a forever defining momement for us as a nation and people.

    In some ways, 911 created positive change in terms of renewed patriotism and shared purpose, but it also has negatives in terms of over-reacting, trading freedoms for the promise of security and some other stuff that is troubling.  We’re still basically a nation of over-indulged consumers who seem to expect others to make our sacrifices for us while we emote and empathize at home, work and online.

    Since we’re entering our own era of austerity (ala the UK after WW2) maybe we could find our inner resolve a little more and start celebrating national service and shared sacrifice more.  I’d love to see a tradition of national service instilled with both rich and poor giving more (such as serving in uniform in their 20’s, etc.)

  13. To the person who said, ” San Jose never paid into the pension fund is just not true” then tell me your explaination of the “Unfunded Pension Liability”?
    -Please do your homework first before making lies!

    • As much as I agree with your sentiments about Reed, there are multiple causes of the unfunded liabilities—other than the city not paying in its share.  Some of the unfunded pension liability comes from:

      1) The fact that increased pension benefit—i.e. 3 at 50 was retroactive.  Thus, those who had been on the job when that went into effect did not pay in (nor did the city) more money for that increased benefit.  Thus, someone on the job for 25 years only paid for a lesser benefit, as did the City.  Thus, when that person retired 5 years later with a much greater benefit, neither the employee nor the City had paid for that over the first 25 years. The newer employees have had to pay for the increased retroactive benefit for those retirees who did not pay for it.

      2) The amortization schedule increases the amount of the unfunded liability.  Mayor Reed is using a much accelerated amortization rate. Some unfunded liability is ok—the benefit will not come due for many years for many workers, thus it could be made up gradually over time. However, Reed wants to fund the liability immediately and therefore has created a sense of urgency that just does not exist.

      3) The City paid most of the years its share of the pension liability. Only the actuaries know what the liability is that resulted from the those few years of not paying its share.

      4) The City has never, or only just recently, began paying into retiree healthcare.  It readily admits that it did not pay any money to fund this obligation.

      5) Returns on investments.  The actuaries use a projected ROI to calculate what amount the City and employee needs to pay to fund the system so that the employee’s benefits will be covered after 30 years of contribution. In the good times, great returns were received and this allowed the City to reduce its contribution.  Now that times are bad, the return is not good and so the City’s share is increased.  The projections of the Mayor that the returns will stay bad has created this projected loss because allegedly the old numbers based on good returns will never be actualized. Thus, if we continue having bad returns the City’s position is that it will not earn enough to pay the benefits which had been calculated in part on good returns.

      I am sure there are other reasons, but not all of the unfunded liability is the result of the City not paying its share of the contribution. One would think that the City would know that returns fluctuate and so therefore it would be wise to put funds away for retiree health care and to ensure when times are good that they plan for bad times but that did not happen under the Mayor’s watch on council and so the employees are suffering now.

    • To Recall REED, show me where the City “never” paid their required share to the retirement funds, they made all the required payments in the last 10 years. not missing one penny.  To say different is a lie.  While I am not an expert on retirement funds, as for unfunded pension liability, they have given more generous retirement benefits and payouts than the system can keep up with. There have also been new acounting standards inplemented by the Federal Government in the last several years that may have also brought this to light.  Hopefully maybe San Jose Inside can pose questions to the City Retirement Plan Manager like they did for the mayor.  This article was to reflect on the heroes of 911 not bash the Mayor or City.  I hope we can all give those who died that tragic day, the civilains and the public safety workers the repsect they deserve.  MAY WE NEVER FORGET.

    • To call it as it is…All the pension payments required by the City since 2000 have been made, it is fact. Prove me wrong or continue to be ingnorant holding on to miss information.  There is room for needed compromise and I am not against finding mutual resolve that helps everyone, but it must done wihtin the facts.  I hope SJI will have the Retirement Services manager answer questions so the miss information out there can be discounted and we move forward based on facts.  Again, this article is to recognize the ultimate sacrifice from those emergency seervice workers and civilans that perished on 911.  Lets keep the biggering to other posts.  MAY WE NEVER FORGET.

  14. I listened to a podcast of mayor Greeds town hall meeting on radio station “KLIV,” Monday night. He struggled to find the words to give credit to first responders.

    He is an embarrassment that words cannot describe!