- Joe Graviss
Legislative Update - September 11th
There have been just a few historic events over the decades where the whole country will never forget what it was doing when it heard the news. Some were positive milestones – the end of fighting during WWII, for example, and the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon – while others were tragedies like Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, and, 18 years ago this week coming up, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
For those old enough to remember that last date, it seems hard to believe that a generation has now gone by since that clear and cool morning.
Though New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania were affected most, no state was untouched. In Kentucky’s case, one of the victims on the flight that struck the World Trade Center’s South Tower had lived in Louisville during his youth.
A Rowan County native was among the Pentagon’s losses, and a victim in the plane that struck that building was the son-in-law of a woman who was working for the General Assembly at the time.
Kentucky also has a strong connection to another memory that arose from that day: The flag flown in the famous photo of firefighters raising it at Ground Zero was originally bought from a salesman based in Barren County. The flag, and the boat from which it was taken, were previously owned by a developer who kept the boat on Lake Cumberland before selling it in the late 1990s.
It turns out that the area around the site of the World Trade Center is full of history. George Washington was sworn into his first term as president and our nation’s Bill of Rights were adopted just about 200 yards away from Ground Zero. That means a short walk now links one of our country’s most enduring victories and one of our darkest tragedies.
As a date, September 11th is special in history as well. It is the anniversary of the last battle of the Revolutionary War – the siege of Fort Henry in 1782 – and it is also the anniversary of the start of construction of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
The day will understandably never be thought of the same way after what happened in 2001, but it did not change who we are and the ideals we represent. We saw that in the selfless acts of emergency workers who willingly risked their own lives to help others that day. We also saw it in the outpouring of support from across the country in the days that followed.
Like almost everyone from the mid-20s forward, I will never forget where I was when I heard the news and then watched it unfold on television. It still seems like such a short time ago.
But as we come together on Wednesday this week to recall that tragic morning, and remember those whose lives were lost that day, it is well worth noting that our strength as a nation has never wavered in the 18 years since then. That, perhaps, is the most fitting tribute of all.