On the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as we pause to remember that tragic day and all those lost, we remember where we were when we watched this national tragedy unfold.
The tremendous amount of anxiety, fear and confusion gave way to increased patriotism. This 18th anniversary is a day of remembrance and a day of recommitment to the great Americans who were our nation’s first responders in the War on Terrorism.
I was in my first term in the U.S. Senate when news networks first reported that planes had hit the World Trade Towers in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 (9/11). Idahoans Brady Kay Howell, of Sugar City, and Ronald J. Vauk, of Nampa, were among those killed at the Pentagon that morning. I later learned that United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, though the flight may have been destined for the Capitol.
The first responders in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville wasted no time in rushing directly toward the flames, confusion and sheer catastrophe of the attacks that day. Many lost their lives as the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. Many others still suffer from 9/11-related illnesses and ailments. On September 11, they were simply doing their job, but became the nation’s first warriors in the War on Terrorism. We are forever indebted to the valor and heroism displayed by these firemen, police officers, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals and volunteers who worked tirelessly and selflessly to recover victims from ground zero.
In July, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed by broad, bipartisan majorities legislation, which President Trump signed into law, to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF). I co-sponsored S. 546, the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. Shortly after 9/11, Congress established the VCF to compensate families of those who died and survivors who suffered disabling injuries during or in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. The law reauthorized the VCF through 2090, and requires the reassessment of VCF policies and procedures at least once every five years.
Following 9/11, we came together as a nation focused on removing the threat of future terrorist attacks, honoring the lives lost and remembering the heroic acts of those who gave so much that day saving others. Americans stood together to mourn our losses, and we got back up, got back to work, rebuilt and pushed forward. The feelings of that day and its aftermath are etched in each of us. We honor the lives lost and the sacrifices of first responders by never forgetting and working together in both big and small ways to strengthen our nation and maintain conditions for peace, prosperity and growth.