This is a guest post by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) for our special blog series on 9/11.
A decade has passed, but the memories of those lost remains strong today. It also is a time to remember the many Americans who showed extraordinary bravery in the face of adversity: the firefighters, police officers, emergency responders, and everyday citizens who stepped forward and risked their lives for others. Many of us know someone affected directly by the cowardly terrorist attacks ten years ago, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who mourn the loss of loved ones today.
I was a member of Congress from the Cincinnati area ten years ago and on the morning of 9/11 I was actually at a meeting in the West Wing of the White House. I had brought a group of House Republicans to the White House mess to meet with some of the President’s advisors. And with me was my wife, Jane. Although we kept our home in Cincinnati –with three kids ranging from 5 to 11 years old – that fateful Tuesday was a rare weekday when Jane was visiting Washington, DC. So she joined me at the White House that morning. Just as the meeting was breaking up we first heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
It was an intense time, and our first thought was to our three kids who were back home in Cincinnati. We decided that Jane should go back to Cincinnati to be with the kids, while I would stay in Washington. We searched all around the DC area and finally found what had to be the last rental car. She jumped in the car and headed to Ohio. And I tell this story not because of what happened in Washington, but because of what happened on Jane’s drive back to Cincinnati. On the way home, somewhere in Pennsylvania, she passed a group of emergency vehicles from the Cincinnati area who were heading east on their way to help out at Ground Zero in New York. It was the Ohio Task Force One, an Urban Search and Rescue Team, which included some friends of mine, driving lights flashing into harm’s way. While we take this opportunity to remember the tragedy and mourn the loss that happened ten years ago, it is also important to remember the countless volunteers from around the country who came together to help their fellow citizens in so many ways.
After years of tireless efforts by our government to bring to justice those responsible for attacking this country on September 11, 2001, we learned earlier this year that Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network, was killed. I commend the members of our military and the intelligence community who made this operation a success and the countless sacrifices made by those who have worked to meet this end. While this was a milestone that we all awaited, we must remember that al Qaeda and its affiliates are not dependent on one man and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks that threaten our Nation and allies.
The fight to protect our country from terrorism continues today. There are still those who dedicate themselves to ending the American way of life, and on this day, once again we express our appreciation for our brave service men and women for their tireless efforts to protect us both here at home and abroad.
In memory of those lost on September 11, 2001, I look forward to the day when freedom and justice prevail over hatred and violence.