WASHINGTON, September 11 -
Mr. Speaker, on a cool September morning in Texas, I was driving my Jeep to the courthouse where I was a judge for a long time. I was listening to KILT radio, a country western station. Willie Nelson was singing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” All of the sudden, Robert B. McEntire, the newscaster for KILT radio, comes on and interrupts the program. He said that an airplane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, and that’s all about we knew at that time. It was 8:46 a.m. eastern time, 7:46 a.m. in Texas.
Continuing my daily journey to the courthouse, a few minutes later he comes back on the radio and says that a second airplane had crashed into the second south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The world understood at that time this was serious. This was an attack on our Nation, on our country.
After I got to the courthouse, we learned that a third airplane flying over Washington, D.C., very close to the building we’re in, the United States Capitol, went down the street less than a mile, and crashed into the Pentagon. That was at 9:37 eastern time. Then a fourth airplane we remember as Flight 93 was flying toward Washington, D.C., probably headed to the Capitol or the White House, where some good, right-thinking folks took control of the plane from hijackers and they crashed in Pennsylvania in a field at 10:07 eastern standard time.
Mr. Speaker, on September 11, 2011, this Nation was attacked. Three thousand people were killed that day. It’s interesting that the attackers decided to attack the World Trade Center because people from 90 nationalities were in the World Trade Center buildings, the south and north. So it was more than an attack on America; it was an attack on the people of the world, freedom-loving people, people who believed in living life and liberty.
The murder was done by 19 radicals who murdered in the name of religion. Of the 3,000 people that were killed, 411 of them were emergency workers and 341 were members of the New York Fire Department. There were also two fire department members of New York who were paramedics that were killed that day, 23 officers from NYPD, 37 Port Authority officers from New York and New Jersey, and eight emergency medical technicians and paramedics killed that day.
In the aftermath of that morning, first responders from all over the United States later that week went to New York to help in the recovery and help restore what had happened at Ground Zero. Many of those first responders still suffer from toxins that they acquired while working Ground Zero, as many members of first responders from New York and New Jersey are still suffering. But today we remember all of those people that were killed that day on September 11.
Later that evening, I, like most Americans, was watching television, and saw the horror on video of what had occurred. I, like you, Mr. Speaker, saw those thousands of people in New York. When those planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings, they were fleeing as fast as they could from the terror that came from the sky.
There was another group of people. Like the fire horses of old that charged to the smell of smoke and the roar of fire, those individuals charged to that terror from the sky. There weren’t very many. There were a handful, but yet they were there. Who were they? They were the first responders. They were the firefighters. They were the emergency medical technicians. They were the paramedics. They were the peace officers. And many of them died that day.
While it’s important that we remember those that were killed, it’s equally important that we remember those that got to live, Mr. Speaker, because those first responders charged to that terror from the sky. Many of them gave up their lives so others could live on that infamous day of September 11, 2001.
And that’s just the way it is.