JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The day the twin towers fell, this country changed. Eighteen-years-ago Wednesday, many of us remember watching the terror and chaos unfold on TVs in offices and classrooms around the world.
Some grew up never knowing the impact that day had on this country. But Chuck Baldwin remembers. He remembers how that event changed his life, inspiring him to lead a life helping others.
Baldwin was 30 in 2001. He went to work at a corporate office. That day started out just like any other.
"I remember that morning just like most people do remember where they were," Baldwin said. "I was in front of my computer and someone mentioned a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. After that, I started paying more attention to it and the second plane, I think, flew into the south tower. Things really got real then. I started watching it at the office. And we were all congregated together watching this."
The impact of that day reverberated with him.
"I grieved like the rest of the country,” Baldwin said.
The horrific events of 9/11 unfolded in front of his very eyes. The moment changed his path forever.
(Story continues after the video)
"I started wondering 'how could I be involved?' Because I just felt the urge to be involved," he said. "'How could I help?' And in the end, the decision was to become a fireman."
A year later he was in school, working to become a fireman. In 2004, he joined the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Now, almost 15 years later, he is the secretary of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters.
“When you go home at the end of the day and you know that you’ve helped somebody," Baldwin said, "there’s no better feeling you can get because you can look at yourself in the mirror and go, 'You know I really have done something to help somebody.'”
As a father, Baldwin found he has to explain the significance to his 10 and 13-year-olds. He says to help explain that day he has his kids watch the documentary, "9/11" that came out in 2002 by two Frenchmen.
"Obviously, make sure it's an appropriate age," Baldwin said. "That's a really good explanation right off the bat. 'Dad, I don't understand, how can the planes fly into the Trade Center?' And that just kind of leads to 'Hey, there is evil in the world.'"
Baldwin has also taken his son to NYC to see the Trade Center Museum. That hallowed ground really resonates with him.
Baldwin wants to make sure we never forget 9/11.
"We can't forget it," he said. "We can't re-write history. It is what it is. That's the biggest thing of respect we can do is not forget these folks."