Idaho Remembers September 11th 2001
Today is a day that changed our country forever, September 11, 2001. It was an end to the innocence that America was invulnerable to an attack on our soil. Jetliners were turned into cruise missiles designed to tear away our sense of security. Mohammad Atta and his hijackers didn't succeed that day. The nation's capital was saved that day thanks to the heroic sacrifice of those Flight 93 passengers. Todd Beamer's phrase, "Lets Roll," continues to inspire all of us today. We lost so many Americans that day, yet twenty years later, we have two generations who do not recall those events.
For me, I was on the air when those planes hit the towers. It was an 18 hour day of broadcasting, coordinating local and national coverage. The raw emotion of the day still resonates in my mind twenty years later. I was very blessed to travel to New York three weeks after the attacks. My show was the first in the country to broadcast from Ground Zero. Eventually, Glenn Beck and other local hosts from across the country did the same to raise awareness on helping that area recover.
During my time in New York, I met a man named Nino and his mom Josephine who had opened his restaurant to the Ground Zero recovery workers. It was a place where construction workers and first responders could eat without the scrutiny of the media. Nino's was a place where there was a sense of normalcy. Those workers laughed and joked with one another before going back to their duty rescue, recovery, and rebuilding.
When I returned from New York, I had someone from a church call me asking me about the possibility of their youth group traveling to New York to volunteer. I called Nino, and thirty kids from Alabama paid their way to New York to work the kitchen at Nino's. The New Yorkers loved those Bama kids. Their work at Nino's brightened the day of those hard-working Ground Zero Workers.
To this day, during our darkest time, I think of those New Yorkers and those kids from Alabama how God provided light to our world when we needed it the most. That's my memory of September 11th, 2001.
There are moments that define a generation.
If you're over the age of about 25, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing during the unthinkable attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.
When I heard that the second plane hit the Twin Towers, I was headed back to Emmett from the ranch. I drove past Freezeout Hill, where one year later we would dedicate a 9/11 memorial. Like many other Americans, when I heard what happened I spent much of the day watching the coverage on a small TV at our office in Emmett, wondering what to expect.
Like the first moon landing or President Kennedy's assassination, there are historic events that escape no one's memory.
Now, two decades later, we reflect on 9/11 – both our memory of the events and what we learned from them.
We remember watching the footage in horror, jaws dropped in disbelief as the second plane hit the Twin Towers and we, as Americans, started to realize we were a country under attack.
We remember seeing terrified faces of Americans watching on as black smoke billowed out of two buildings so massive that they made Manhattan's other skyscrapers look like toothpicks.
We remember hearing the blaring sound of sirens and seeing heroic firefighters, police officers, and other first responders charging into the burning buildings as others fled.
We remember watching the Twin Towers crumble, ash and debris filling the streets in a way a bomb couldn't, and the deafening, eerie silence that followed. An unbelievable amount of smoldering rubble was piled high at Ground Zero.
We witnessed an enormous hole in the side of the Pentagon – a building that symbolizes the strength of our U.S. military and where Idahoan and Rexburg native Brady Howell died that morning working – and the image of soldiers and firefighters hanging a large American flag on the side of the building following the attack, signifying our country's strength and resolve.
We remember seeing a hole in the ground outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where brave Americans onboard took control of a hijacked plane with an unknown target – saving countless American lives.
We heard stories of tragedy and of heroism.
Just as we can recall specific details about what we saw and heard on that tragic day, we also remember our individual and collective reaction to the events of 9/11.
We can remember a country coming together in a way rarely seen before.
We all tempered our personal political opinions to come together and demonstrate strength and patriotism. We inspired the rest of the world. American flags could be seen everywhere.
Our younger generation didn't experience it, but those of us who did can share with them what we learned – that in the middle of a crisis we have an opportunity to come together and build up each other and our country.
One year after 9/11, with both military and first responders, Governor Dirk Kempthorne and I dedicated an American flag and memorial on Freezeout Hill to commemorate the men and women who lost their lives and the heroes who acted in bravery.
We will never forget 9/11, and we must never relent in helping future generations understand the lesson of patriotism that grew out of 9/11 – that all of us, despite our individual and varied political opinions – can live out a love for our country during a tragedy, and every day.
God bless America!
Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin
Senator Mike Crapo:
Congressman Mike Simpson:
Congressman Russ Fulcher: