The Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001 is a day still seared into my mind and heart. On that fateful morning – ten years ago on Sunday – the financial and military centers of our great nation were attacked by Islamic terrorists who wanted to destroy the freedoms that we all hold so dear. It was also the day on which the first battle of the War on Terror was won by ordinary citizens on United Flight 93 fighting back against a suicide mission to attack the political center of our country – the United States Capitol building.
During that morning I learned that Barbara Olson, a very dear friend of mine, had perished on American Airlines Flight 77 – the flight that hit the Pentagon. Barbara and I worked on the Clinton investigations together in the 1990s for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. She was a tough litigator and a conservative stalwart. In the final minutes of her life, Barbara relayed vital information from the plane to her husband, Ted Olson, President Bush’s Solicitor General at the time. Barbara had such a kind heart and her loss still has a profound effect on me today.
Watching the news throughout the day, I had hoped that there would be many more survivors found at the Pentagon, World Trade Center and Shanksville, Pa., but in the end those hopes were dashed as nearly 3,000 people perished at the hands of Al Qaeda. As a firefighter in Montgomery County, Maryland, I will never forget the selfless sacrifices made by the 343 members of the FDNY and the other first responders who perished so others could live on September 11th. Those brave men and women ran into the burning towers to save their fellow citizens from certain death, showing the world what the word “hero” truly means.
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