Remembering 9/11 - September 11th, 2020
There are a just a handful of events in our country’s history that will never leave the collective memory of those who lived through them. Those include Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the Challenger explosion, and – 19 years ago today – a tragedy that is first recalled by its date: 9/11.
Nearly 3,000 died that day in 2001 in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Those areas may have been the most affected, but every state felt the loss.
For Kentucky, a victim in the plane that struck one of the Twin Towers had lived here for a time, and another at the Pentagon was a Rowan County native. He had been scheduled off that day, but came in to help a co-worker.
One of the passengers on the plane striking that building, meanwhile, was the son-in-law of someone who had worked for the General Assembly.
There is another connection that day linked to the commonwealth. The flag in the now-iconic photo featuring several firefighters raising it at Ground Zero originally came from here. It was previously owned by a Kentucky businessman who had bought it from a Barren County salesman.
Historically, many may not realize that Ground Zero is just a few hundred yards from where George Washington was sworn in as the United States’ first president and where the Constitution’s Bill of Rights were introduced. That means a short walk links one of our country’s most tragic events with one of our most enduring successes.
September 11th is also the anniversary of other important events for our country. On that day in 1609, for example, the explorer Henry Hudson first sailed his ship by Manhattan, later home to the World Trade Center; and in 1941, that day marked the beginning of construction on the Pentagon.
9/11 may first be a time of solemn remembrance, but it also represents the heroism we later learned about. Those stories range from the firefighters and other first responders who gave their lives in the Twin Towers trying to save others to the passengers in the flight over Pennsylvania who fought back valiantly.
In the years since that day, we have also had hundreds of thousands of brave men and women serve our nation in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. Our state – home to Fort Knox and Fort Campbell and many who are part of the National Guard and the Reserves – understands the sacrifice this has required all too well.
At least several of our communities have permanent reminders of what was lost in 2001. The Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central in Radcliff is home to the Kentucky September 11th Memorial, which contains part of the steel beams from the World Trade Center and stones from the Pentagon. Harrison and Muhlenberg counties are two other communities with memorials containing steel beams from the World Trade Center. My cousin Nich Dieruf has a flag pole in his honor at the Healing Field in Anderson County. I had another cousin who worked for the Army Public Affairs Office in the Pentagon where it got hit but thanks God was not there that day.
As we remember those we lost, perhaps the best way we can honor their legacy is to follow the words of the sister of the 1st Class Petty Officer from Rowan County who died at the Pentagon.
“9/11 is volunteer day, so do something,” she said. “Go read to a veteran, go give blood, do something that's going to help your fellow man, show kindness, buy somebody coffee. Help where you can help.”
Amen, and God bless everybody.
56th District Representative
Kentucky House of Representatives
P.O. Box 1002
Versailles, KY 40383