In more than 20 years of covering wrecks for the newspaper, I've seen a few things I'd rather forget.
There's no need to go into detail, and I certainly won't here, because it's sufficient to say there are some scenes which have been very gruesome.
I must have appeared visibly shaken at a car crash a few years ago when a local tow truck operator walked over and offered his words of wisdom. "I've learned sometimes it's better not to look," he told me.
If you drive a wrecker or work for the newspaper that can be easy advice to follow. At these scenes, we are able to maintain a certain degree of distance, as we should.
But that's not the case for the first-responders in our community. Our emergency medical professionals, firefighters and police officers must take a hands-on approach in often-horrible situations. This can entail anything from providing CPR to save a life to using the Jaws of Life to free a person from the wreckage of their own vehicle.
It's always appropriate to remember the sacrifices our emergency workers are prepared to make and the mental strength required to do their jobs. It's especially appropriate this Friday, which is the 19th year since the numbing attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Today's current high school students weren't alive when two planes flew into the towers at the World Trade Center, another crashed into The Pentagon, and a fourth crashed into a Pennsylvania field as hijackers were overtaken by passengers.
According to Wikipedia, 9-11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 firefighters and 72 officers killed.
McMinnville police officer Bill Davis is one of the organizers of a Sept. 11 tribute Friday morning at Wild Bill's BBQ, which is located at the old VFW. In talking to me last week about the event, Bill made an accurate observation.
He said the tragedy of 9-11 served to bring America together. It created a sense of unity, he noted, that is clearly lacking in our country today.
I agree completely and find it striking how far we've digressed into a nation of social media insults in 19 short years. It's a sad indictment really.
On the anniversary of 9-11, it's common to hear phrases like "always remember" and "never forget." That's certainly a proper thing to do when thinking about the people who lost their lives on that Tuesday and the sacrifices our first-responders are continually willing to make today.
We'd also all be well-served to "always remember" and "never forget" the tremendous sense of patriotism and closeness that blanketed America in the wake of Sept. 11. It would be nice if we could achieve that again.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.