As I walked into the Staff Sergeant’s office to drop off a mitt full of paperwork he had the news on the television.
I had an impaired driver in custody at the station and the paperwork takes about 4 hours…crazy.
The date was Sept 11, 2001.
The coverage was of a building on fire. The banner tape running under the commentary said..”Small plane hits World Trade Center”.
I remember thinking you would have to be the world’s worst pilot to stove your plane into such a massive structure, pending some mechanical failure.
As I waited for him to sign the 15 different documents I had to serve on the drunk driver to make sure some fancy pants lawyer didn’t get him off on a technicality…
I watched as a MASSIVE jet flew into the second tower.
I stood, silent, not really comprehending what was happening in that moment.
And then it became abundantly clear that this was a full out attack.
There was chaos as people scrambled to not only make sense of what was taking place, but to try and implement a meaningful response.
What would come to be reviewed as one of the largest breakdowns of intelligence resulting in the massive loss of life due to incompetence and inaction, would also reveal some of the most heroic action ever witnessed on a large scale.
Today I am writing to honour those, who like you, are action takers.
As 9/11 unfolded that day, we witnessed heros taking massive action on behalf of their fellow man.
I was brought to tears hearing the different accounts of people who were selflessly giving their own lives to make sure others could get home to their loved ones.
As we listened to the calls taken by compassionate dispatchers talking to a stranger, making them feel loved and comforted in their last moments of life.
As we watched emergency responders press towards the chaos of collapsing towers in the hope of saving lives while risking their own to do so.
As we saw the bloodied and cut unknown men and women turn back into the clouds of falling debris to save someone they either did or did not know….
The simple fact is they were ALL action takers… Ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary courage...heros!
At the time the call rang out to take action, they rose up and made a difference. Some made it home but many did not.
To quote the US President of the Day, “…Some of our greatest moments have been acts of courage for which no one could have been prepared…”
I think about flight 93 passengers and crew who took action, fought back and saved hundreds of lives on the ground
Todd Beamer, along with Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. They were joined by other passengers, including Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaven, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyles .
Like you and so many others, I wondered if I could have done what they did. And the truth is…I could.
So today I honor the fallen. Those who were no different than you and I but stood up to make a difference, take action on behalf of their fellow man.
The number of Soldiers who would then press into to battle to defend a principle and way of life which has provide so many with unbelievable opportunity, and gave their lives.
Guys like Pat Tillman who would give up an NFL contract to serve his nation and wanted nothing special in return but to live with honour.
The list of amazing people who demonstrated courage both on that day and the years that have followed…truly inspiring and amazing.
These are the character traits I strive to exemplify and my sincere hope and belief is, so do you.