September 11, 2001 marks a tragic event in our country’s history.
Today, we reflect again on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which remains one of the most traumatic national events in America's history. The attacks themselves directly killed 2,977 people, and an additional 1,900 people died later from illnesses related to the attacks. Moments after the towers fell, tens of thousands of EMS providers, firefighters and law enforcement officials, as well as everyday citizens who happened to be in the area, responded to the scene to help survivors and rescue as many folks as they could from the wreckage.
Unfortunately, many first responders are no longer with us. On the day of the attacks themselves, 414 first responders lost their lives, and since then, an estimated 1,500 additional first responders have passed away due to health problems they incurred while attempting to find survivors. Around 2,000 responders who did survive sustained injuries. In total, an estimate 60,000 first responders assisted in rescue and recovery operations.
From multiple generations and all walks of life; we stood together to support our nation. At the time, this attack on our way of life was a wake-up call to our citizens. We banded together, one and all, to do what we had to do. The outpouring of support for each other, our military or first responders and our fellow man was unprecedented. There are many examples across the world of why America is the greatest nation in the world. Fast forward 18 years, I like to believe that this “neighbor helping neighbor”, working together as one nation, under God, was still an everyday way of life. In Butler County and across our State of Kansas, I believe it does still drive us. BUT all you have to do these days is watch the news, visit your favorite social media app or read an article post and you realize the world today is much different. In words, many parts of our country are divided. This should be concerning for all of us as Americans.
I am proud to say, we do not stand alone as First Responders. IT takes a TEAM! Everyday Heroes who are citizens, volunteers, our friends and neighbor’s make-up the largest majority of First Responders in America. Rural and Frontier communities, such as Butler County, rely on these teammates everyday to respond to the call for help. We depend on neighbors helping neighbors. Without all of us, working together to help our community, where would we be?
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was the new president and gave one of his shortest speeches during a flag-raising ceremony at the White House on the Fourth of July, saying that “My job was to raise this flag. (Pointing to the crowd, Lincoln said), "'It is your job to keep it up.'"
In honor of those who have lost their lives helping others and sacrificed for our continued way of life known as freedom, I encourage you to pause in a moment of reflection.
I also challenge each and every one of us to not forget and remember our commitment to this great nation, the ideals on which it was founded, to the concept of everyday heroes, neighbors helping neighbors, the land of the free and the home of the brave!