Most of us awoke Sept. 11, 2001, to the news that the United States was under attack by terrorists.
Two hijacked planes had flown into the World Trade Center, and one had collided into the Pentagon. Another crashed in the fields of Shanksville, Pa., shortly after 7 a.m., Pacific time. By 9:15 a.m., American airspace was cleared of all commercial and private flights. Americans had seen attacks in other countries, even against its embassies and ships, but now it was happening here.
City staff lowered its flag to half-mast, and people erected impromptu monuments. Pleasanton held a community-wide ecumenical service at the Fairgrounds that Saturday night, a chance to join together at that time of national mourning. The Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters held a pancake breakfast at the Veterans Hall to raise money for the emergency services personnel in New York City.
Pleasanton was also impacted because one of the hijacked airplanes, Flight 93, was bound for San Francisco. Tom Burnett, 38, Thoratec Corp.'s senior vice president and chief operating officer, was on board; he and his fellow passengers were credited with diverting the hijackers from a more populated target. Burnett made four phone calls to his wife Deena in San Ramon during the hijacking, which helped form a coherent idea of what was happening on board. In March 2002, Thoratec renamed the street off Stoneridge Drive where it's located in Pleasanton after Burnett. At the street dedication, Deena Burnett said that even six months later, parts of the phone calls were still coming back to her. "They are like little gifts," she said.
The events that unfolded that tragic Tuesday morning are embedded forever in our hearts and minds. Like those old enough to remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on Jan. 28, 1986 and the death of President John F. Kennedy from an assassin's bullet in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, we'll never forget 9/11. To paraphrase the words of President Roosevelt: These are dates which will live in infamy.