SOUTHPORT, Fla. — It’s been 18 years since the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. For the country, it’s a day of solemn remembrance; even more so for the family members of the nearly three thousand victims of that day.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Don Arias, a Bay County resident who lost his brother in the attacks. “When I come home at the end of the day and the house is quiet, I think of my brother.”
He said his brother, Adam, was the life of the party. He was one of six siblings; he was a brother, a husband and a son.
“He was a real person with a real life with friends and family,” said Arias. “Now he’s a name on a wall.”
Adam worked in the South Tower.
He was a 37 year-old broker with a full life ahead, until that Tuesday in September at 8:46 am.
“I called him on the phone, and he told me what he was seeing,” said Arias, who was working at Tyndall Air Force Base.
He said Adam was an ‘eyewitness to history,’ watching the North Tower burn and telling him what was going on. Then, Arias said his brother had to hang up, and he never spoke to him again.
The family later learned that Adam had been helping people get to safety from the towers on the ground, when the walls of the South Tower began to crumble. He was not able to escape.
“No one expected that to happen, especially him,” said Arias. “I know in my heart he went out quickly.”
That happened 18 years ago.
Every year, the day is a reminder for thousands of raw emotion, and not just of sadness.
“A lot of frustration and anger wells up in me,” said Arias.
He feels anger towards terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the head conspirator who planned the attack. Mohammed has been held at Guantanamo Bay for 13 years now. His trial has finally been scheduled for January, 2021.
“I think Kalid Sheikh Mohammad will die of old age before he gets capital punishment,” said Arias.
Arias has been to G-Bay three times; he says Mohammed has everything but his freedom.
“They have a library, they play video games, they have laptops,” he said. “For us to worry about the care and comfort of the people who did this is antithetical to everything you feel as a human being.”
However, he says justice is better served later than never.
“Probably fifteen years too late, but it’s about time,” he said.
He holds that hope of justice close; he holds the memories of his brother even closer.
“Never pass up an opportunity to spend time with a loved one or a family member,” he said.