Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Burchett shares 9-11 experience with St. Bernard
Lt. Col. Michael Burchett is thankful to be amongst friends and family ten years after the 9-11 tragedy. Speaking to the student body at St. Bernard recently, Burchett says he remembers too well the events that took place on that day because he was there.
“I had just relocated my office at the Pentagon two weeks prior to the attack, and thankfully so. Had I been at my desk, I would have been greeted by the nose of the plane that crashed,” Burchett said.
While many students may not recall the tragedy that killed more than 3,000 people, they were reminded of the scene and the times through a video. Fr. Joel Martin reminded all students the attack was not just on the United States, but the world.
“Citizens of 90 different countries died when the planes struck the towers. Among them were people of South Korea, Germany, the Peoples Republic of China, Taiwan, Mexico and India (St. Bernard has students from each of those countries). It was an attack on the whole world and the world was changed because of it,” Fr. Joel said.
Burchett recalled a plane clipping the world trade center three years prior to the attack, and thought no big deal. The Pentagon was under renovation and loud booming sounds were not uncommon, and the Pentagon was in the flight path of the national airport.
“No one had put together that we were under three attacks,” Burchett said.
“We started trying to account for missing people who were going to meetings, didn’t show up for work, going to doctor’s appointments, etc., and received orders to move further away because there was a fourth plane headed our way.”
For those working at the Pentagon, it was several hours later until they learned of the devastation that had taken place in New York City. The satellites were overpowered and had been shut down, as well as all mass transit from 9:30 am Tuesday morning until 2:30 p.m.
“I finally get on the subway and as we went by the national airport, there was nothing. It was a ghost town . All planes had been told to divert,” Burchett said.
While the Pentagon lost 189 people in the attack, almost 3,000 were lost in New York City.
Burchett told students, “What we have to keep in mind is that you can see people that are dead, you can see people that are maimed, or scarred. What you can’t see are people who have been affected mentally by what happened on 9-11. It’s been ten years and I still remember that day and am still bothered by it. You may not remember it , and you may be unaware of the changes in your life, but it has a tremendous impact on everyone of us.”
Burchett is the father of Will and Wren Thornton who are students enrolled at St. Bernard Middle School.
A video of the presentation can be found on the school’s facebook or youtube account by visiting the website www.stbernardprep.com.