A 9/11 first responder reflects on his memories of Ground Zero

People looking at names on the 9/11 memorial

On September 11, 2001, our country faced terror we never thought possible — war had come to our shores. The attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 shook Americans to our core. Our country would never be the same.

But amid the fear and destruction, Americans responded the best way we knew how, by uniting to help each other.

John Byrnes, a National Guardsman and combat veteran, was sitting in a classroom in Manhattan when he heard a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. His military instincts kicked in as he rushed from his class to make his way to a nearby armory and await his orders.

Over the next two weeks, Byrnes, who is now retired, acted as a first responder at Ground Zero. Through 12-hour shifts, Byrnes saw the worst horror he’d ever experienced, before or since. But he also saw the resilience of New York and the spirit of giving in the American people.You can read more about Byrnes’ inspiring story by visiting Concerned Veterans for America Foundation.

Stand Together honors the sacrifices of September 11th first responders and remembers all those who lost their lives that day.

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Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo description: Hands touching names on the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan