Today we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11/2001; A Day to Remember those innocents killed, to Honor those who responded, of whom many died, and to Recognize all those who’ve raised their hand that day and since to serve and defend this nation.
Angela Murray has been quite kind once again to render our National Anthem.
First, to all service members and veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq: Thank you for your service, your sacrifices at home and abroad. This past month we’ve witnessed, seemingly, far more turmoil and grief, given the collapse there. Especially, especially with memories of the loss of family and friends over the past 20, yes, 20 years. Your service shall not be forgotten.
Thank you for joining us today, 20 years after the terrorist attacks that shook our nation and united our nation. I am the Acting Commander of The American Legion Price Post, your host for today.
Today, we’re honored to be joined by you, my fellow veterans, fire fighters, police chiefs and officers, sheriff and deputies, medical responders and providers, local city, county, and state government representatives.
The first aircraft might have been a terrible accident, perhaps even crew suicide, then a second aircraft struck Tower Two and quickly brought to focus these crashes were deliberate actions of terrorist-state actors attacking innocent targets. It took a short time to learn terrorists controlled the aircraft with passengers aboard, and not by remote control.
While air traffic controllers across the country were beginning to get aircraft on the ground as soon as possible, the third passenger airliner crashed into the 16-foot-thick walls of the Pentagon.
Though some families already knew, the rest of us learned a bit later of the fourth passenger aircraft crashing into a Pennsylvania farm field.
On this date 20-years ago:
American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston for Los Angeles with 81 passengers and 11 crew, was hi-jacked then flown into the North Tower, Tower One of the World Trade Center at 8:46am.
United Airlines Flight 175 also departed Boston for Los Angeles with 51 passengers and 9 crew, was hi-jacked then flown into the South Tower, Tower Two of the World Trade Center at 9:05am.
American Airlines Flight 77 departed Dulles for Los Angeles was hi-jacked, then flown into the Pentagon at 9:39am. There were 53 passengers and 6 crew aboard killed instantly; 125 military personnel at the Pentagon were killed, too.
United Airlines Flight 93 was hi-jacked after it departed Newark for San Francisco with 53 passengers and 5 crew. However, Flight 93’s passengers learned from family and friends of the first three hi-jackings and crashes. The passengers were determined to avoid a crash into another civilian target, passengers fought their way into the cockpit, and fought for control; then crashed into a field near Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, at 10:03am.
These are ones we Remember, we Remember the innocent lives lost during the attacks.
Between the two jets and the two towers, 2,763 innocents, 343 firefighters and emergency medical personnel, 23 New York police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers died in the buildings’ collapse following the impacts and fires of jetliners each with enough fuel to cross the country plus reserves.
These 403 first responders sacrificed their lives striving to evacuate those trapped, no one on the ground expected the buildings to collapse as they did. Over 400 more have died of illnesses from the fires.
These are the ones we Honor, we Honor their sacrifice for running into the chaos, into the danger to rescue others.
It took quite some time, seemingly, far too much time to learn the attacks were conducted by foreigners following domestically provided flight training; these state sponsored Wahhabi Islamists were members of al-Qaeda.
During the subsequent and publicly forced congressional inquiry, a report released July 22, 2004, cited the dire need for the overhaul of the 15 disparate, competitive and uncooperative US intelligence agencies. With the recent collapse in Afghanistan, we see nothing has improved.
We as a country were seemingly targeted for our freedom and politics. Before our nation’s first efforts to strike back, we became united as a nation that horrific day 20-years ago, but only for a short time afterwards.
For far beyond the trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ monies, is the real, the true cost of battles borne. The human cost; losses of life, limbs, physical and mental harms from injuries and trauma. And worse, the loss of family members, friends and comrades who’ve committed suicide at home and overseas.
In the past 20 years, this nation has suffered and lost over 7,000 men and women in the war on terror. Over 5,460 who were killed in combat; over 53,280 men and women were injured in action, and many more injured in training, transportation, and non-combat activities.
These numbers, though stark, do not represent the individual lives lost to surviving family members, Gold Star families, and friends.
These are the ones we Remember, Honor, and Recognize for having been in one uniform or another this date 20-years ago and those, having seen these attacks, raised their right hand that day or any day since, vowing to defend this nation, and serve this nation as assigned; as every service member and veteran has done after signing that infamous blank check.
A worse loss are those service members and veterans who’ve survived but committed suicide in theatres overseas and here at home at the rate of over 22 individuals per day. Some committed suicide over the guilt of survival, some did over the loss of family, friends, and comrades, and some did so over the injuries, treatment of injuries or worse, over the lack of treatment for physical injuries and trauma.
Let me pause with this, from Medal of Honor recipient, Kyle Carpenter, Marine, Operation Enduring Freedom.
Quote, “It is particularly difficult for American veterans of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as our Iraq war vets. The visceral scenes as that nation fell are disruptive reminders for those who are living with injuries from that conflict, injuries seen and unseen. Even more so for the families of the 2,448 American military warriors who died in Afghanistan.”
I will add to Kyle’s statement, there are Vietnam War Veterans watching these evacuations, the only difference between the fall of Saigon and Kabul is the country and the airframe.
Yesterday, September 10th, our community participated in a nationwide Suicide Awareness campaign hosted by the local hope squad. If not them, service members and veterans need to reach out to the scores of fellow veterans, for conversation, venting, help, aid, or just joined for a cup of coffee. Veterans have served our nation, saved our nation, by committing themselves in service, with honor and dignity.
IF you need someone, if you need to talk, to vent, call a buddy, call a crisis line, but do not go this route alone, you are not alone in grief. The VA released a statement last week highlighting a 98% increase of calls from August 14th-29th, 98%. Please reach out, even if not in crisis.
I’m honored to introduce the next three speakers.
Christine Watkins, Representative, Utah District 69.
Fire Chief Fitzgerald Peterson.
Sheriff Jeff Wood.
The honor guard will fire a three-volley salute to honor those killed this date 20 years ago, those killed in action, those who’ve succumbed to injuries, and those who did not receive the assurance their lives mattered.
Sergeant-at-Arms, fire a three volley salute.
Bugler, sound taps.
I thank you, all of you here, for joining me today, this day to Remember, Honor, and Recognize.
Take care and be safe.