HOMELAND VIGILANCE: AS IMPORTANT NOW AS SIX YEARS AGO
By Senator Mike Crapo
(from CNN transcripts, September 11, 2001)
"This all began at about 8:48 this morning. Again, what we know in case you are just joining us, a small plane, not a Cessna-type or five or six seater, but instead, perhaps a passenger flight ran into the north side of the World Trade Center…"
"perhaps some type of navigating system or some type of electronics would have put two planes into the World Trade Center within it looks like about 18 minutes of each other…"
"Associated Press is reporting that a plane, it was a plane that crashed at the Pentagon. And the Pentagon is being evacuated. There's a large fire there…We can tell you that the White House has been evacuated…"
"So air travel in this country has come to a halt this morning as clearly people are trying…to figure out what exactly is going on. There are several, now, incidents that look for all that we can tell to be a major terrorist attack here in the United States. So all airports, all across the country are closed, all bridges and tunnels coming into Manhattan are closed..."
Not since the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, has our nation been in the grip of such panic and uncertainty as on September 11, 2001. That fall morning, when almost 3,000
lives disappeared in flames and black smoke, changed our nation. It changed the way we view the world, permanently altering our sense of security. 9/11 brought us into shocking, horrifying contact with our true vulnerabilities and the threat our American way of life poses to a small deadly sector of an already restless part of the world.
For some, 9/11 seems like a lifetime ago. Like Kennedy's assassination or the Space Shuttle disasters, most of us can remember it with remarkable clarity, but the resulting urgency and call to action has faded. We fly in and out of airports, often not even paying attention to the current national threat advisory level. 9/11 seems to symbolize security hassles at airports and public buildings rather than a true, chilling threat to our way of life.
It's a good thing that there are those among us whose job it is to not forget. Those responsible for keeping vigilant watch include additional law enforcement at shopping malls and other public places, Transportation Security Administration personnel at our travel hubs and our local, county, state and federal law enforcement.
Here at home, the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security works with the emergency support function of every state agency as well as county emergency coordinators, county commissioners, Idaho Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Idaho Citizen Corps, Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) and others to help keep Idahoans informed about what to do in case of a natural disaster or terror attack.
Everyone has a role in emergency preparedness. Be vigilant. Pay attention to questionable activity and behavior in public places. If in doubt, report it to proper authorities. When it comes to natural disasters such as the forest fires that raged across Idaho this summer, following instructions of emergency responders is the best way to keep you and your family safe.
As we reflect on 9/11, we can be immensely grateful for all those who have worked to prevent another horrific attack on our homeland. We can celebrate the freedom of movement and expression we have been able to maintain despite these threats. Most importantly, we can remain vigilant. The threat is no less real or deadly than it was one sunny September morning in 2001.
September is National Preparedness Month. For more information, visit my website: http://crapo.senate.gov .
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