Each year on September 11th, now known as Patriot Day, I stop to reflect on how much our country has been forever changed as I recall the tragic events on that date, fourteen years ago as if were yesterday.

The attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the intended attack on the US Capital Building on September 11, 2001, brought the United States face to face with a new, more, insidious form of warfare – international terrorism. If the cowards that perpetrated this atrocious act thought it would coerce the American people into turning against the government’s conduct of the war on terrorism, their attack on defenseless civilian men, women and children had the exact opposite effect. For the first time since the early days of WWII, Americans came together, united against a common but hidden enemy in our own homeland.

That morning I was in Palo Alto, CA, trying to raise funds for a software startup company of which I was the CEO. I was about to leave for a meeting with potential investors in San Francisco, when my wife Dottie called me from Scottsdale to tell me to turn on the TV. As I watched the news in horror, I saw the World Trade Towers burning. I debated about still driving to San Francisco, but left after confirming that the conference was still scheduled. Before leaving my hotel room, I watched as the first tower fell. While enroute to San Francisco, I turned on the radio, only to learn that the second tower had collapsed.

When I arrived at the conference hotel, located adjacent to the San Francisco airport, I learned that my meetings had been cancelled. I spent the next several hours watching the news and listening to aircraft landing at the airport. Slowly but surely, the airport became eerily silent – as the volume of air traffic diminished when aircraft across the country were grounded, and the last inbound flights from Asia were allowed to land. By mid-afternoon, I decided to return to Palo Alto and as I drove down the interstate highway, I noticed something remarkable. American flags were flying over virtually every overpass on the highway; placed there by citizens reacting to the murder of their fellow countrymen. When I got back to Palo Alto, I headed for the nearest television to watch more news and try to deal with the events of the day. Earlier in the week, I had engaged in a few spirited political discussions with some of the other hotel guests but now, as we watched continuing coverage of the attack together, there was no left wing vs. right wing banter, just patriotic Americans, contemplating the deaths of their fellow citizens and rallying together as they always have when our nation is threatened.

As National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, I urge you in join me in remembering and honoring the nearly 3,000 innocent men, women, and children who were murdered by terrorists at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in a quiet field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Among those who were killed or wounded that day, 68 were on active duty in our Armed Forces, most of them serving at the Pentagon, and they did receive Purple Heart medals as a consequence of the attack by international terrorists.

Let us renew our resolve to defend our homeland and our freedoms, at all costs, so that our children and our children’s children may continue to live in peace and prosperity. May God Bless the United States of America and the men and women who continue to serve our great nation at home and abroad.

Bob Puskar

National Commander

Military Order Of The Purple Heart