Like some of you, over the past couple of days, I’ve been reflecting upon the events that unfolded thirteen years ago.
Most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when media coverage broke at 8:46 a.m. after a commercial airplane smashed into the World Trade Center. That shocking event was followed by another plane striking the New York landmarks just 17 minutes later. When that second plane struck, it became clear that the incident was a deliberate and criminal attack, not merely an accident.
I recall being at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center outside of Hutchinson, when the staff drew our attention to the live television coverage.
There was a sense of shock and disbelief that so many of our fellow American’s could be murdered in such a manner, and it unfolding on live television.
As the events continued to develop that morning, a third plane hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., and a fourth crashed in into a field in rural Pennsylvania, contributing to the panic that certainly set in across the country.
Anyone with family members working in high profile buildings or traveling by air that day was worried.
Nobody knew if another attack was imminent and if so, when and where would it occur.
As we watched the coverage, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement and firefighters rushed into the smoke and fire filled buildings. No doubt the situation was chaotic. The visibility was minimal, the sounds of destruction and desperate cries for help came from every direction and we have since learned that the emergency communications equipment was not working properly.
Despite the conditions and obstacles, the responders grabbed their gear and rushed to the scene so they could help those in need. They did so knowing that they were placing themselves in danger. There’s no doubt in my mind that many entered those buildings knowing that they likely wouldn’t go home that night. But they entered anyway because maybe, just maybe, they would be able to help a stranger return to their home.
When I think about this, I am disheartened by the number of citizens and emergency personnel who lost their lives that Tuesday morning. Yet, I am also filled with extreme pride that there are people out there who are willing to accept personal risk in order to serve those in their community.
It was that same sense of duty and desire to serve that caused many men and women to go to their local recruiting stations and sign up for a branch of the military.
What an amazing thing! Terrorists attack us because of our love for country, freedom and democracy and what they manage to achieve is bringing us closer together.
In the days that followed that tragic event, we set aside our differences. It didn’t matter your political party, what your social status was, what you did for a living, what state you lived in, or anything else. The only thing that mattered was that we were Americans. Americans who were determined to band together to stand up to whoever dared to challenge or jeopardize our way of life.
The slogan that came from the events of September 11th was “We Will Never Forget – 9-11-01.”
I don’t necessarily think we will forget, but as years go by, the feelings we felt in the days to follow have began to dissipate.
Nevertheless, I still find myself filled with pride for the military and emergency responders who sprung into action that day.
I also am proud to have the opportunity to work with men and women who are just as dedicated to serving this community. We are fortunate to have such great people who join our local fire departments (many of whom are volunteers), along with our law enforcement and emergency medical agencies.
They all make the decision, despite the obvious risks, to get up every day and serve this community, hoping to make a difference, hoping to make this a little bit safer place for all of us to raise our families. They don’t do it to hear thanks, they certainly don’t do it for the money, but they do it because they care about this place that we all call home.
So today, on September 11th, 2014, I ask that you join me in keeping them and our brave soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.