THE BLOG
09/11/2013 12:14 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

Never Forget

I lost many friends on 9/11... brave souls who served selflessly and anonymously every day to protect our communities and the nation. Today is the day we remember their sacrifices celebrate their lives and recall how fortunate we are to be Americans.

I remember where I was when I heard the news:

Early in the morning Tucson, Ariz., time I was on the way to SWAT training when were diverted (via police radio) to a hostage rescue.

As we got into position to begin negotiating with the hostage taker and prepare a tactical plan, our police radios were lit up with the terrible reports from New York City then eventually Washington, D.C., and Shanksville.

It was a surreal situation... having to save a life in this hostage situation all while keeping an ear to an alternate frequency to monitor national events.

I remember thinking is, is this a drill or is it a mistake like what happened back in 1938 when Orson Wells had many Americans living in fear as they mistook his adaption of War of the Worlds for an actual newscast? But soon, reality sank in. America was under siege.

As team leader, I immediately accelerated the pace of our negotiations and told the hostage taker to turn on his television and listen to the news.

I remember saying something like, "Your country appears to be being attacked and we don't have time for your bullshit.... come out with your hands up without your weapons and you will not be hurt... there will be no negotiation... we must resolve this very quickly."

He came out, was taken into custody and the hostage recovered without further incident.

Out SWAT team then returned to headquarters for briefings and for assignments to protect critical infrastructures like weapons facilities, military bases, and power facilities.

Although it's been a dozen years, the actions and actors around the globe are a constant reminder that we must always be vigilant. That we cannot take our freedom for granted, and that we should live each day to the fullest.

Take time today to remember those lost that fateful day, and say a prayer for those who continue to serve to protect our nation and our freedom.