A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand
FRANKFORT – On Thursday this week, our nation will pause to remember those whose lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
If you are old enough to recall exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news, it can seem difficult to believe that 13 years have passed.
As a nation, only a few events in our modern history stand as tall in our collective memory. They include the end of World War II, President Kennedy’s assassination and Neil Armstrong’s walking on the moon.
Although New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., were understandably the hardest hit that morning, no state was untouched. For Kentucky, one of the victims on the flight that struck the World Trade Center’s South Tower had lived in Louisville for a time, and one of those killed in the Pentagon was a native of Rowan County.
In the plane that hit the Pentagon, meanwhile, was the son-in-law of a woman who worked for the General Assembly for several years.
Kentucky also has a direct connection to the immediate aftermath at Ground Zero. The flag that three firefighters raised just hours after the Twin Towers fell, and which is commemorated in a now-iconic photo, came from our state. The firefighters retrieved it from a nearby boat that had previously been owned by someone who had bought the flag 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 connects one of our most tragic events with two of our most enduring victories.
September 11th itself is 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 learned about in the days that followed. Those stories include the firefighters and other first responders who gave their lives in the Twin Towers trying to save others, and it includes the passengers in the flight over Pennsylvania who fought back with the rallying cry of “Let’s roll.”
In the years since that tragic 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 understands the sacrifice this has required all too well and the need to always be prepared. With that in mind, I have been truly moved by the support I have seen as we rally to keep draconian cuts from devastating the military presence we have, which has done so much to protect us both here and abroad.
As we come together this Thursday to remember and to reflect, it is well worth noting that our strength as a nation has never wavered over the last 13 years, and it will not waver in the years to come.
That, perhaps as much as anything, is the most fitting tribute of all.