September 11 Anniversary Address
As Prepared for Delivery
Ten years ago today, without warning our world changed forever.
We watched in horror as the World Trade Center towers in New York fell, the Pentagon crumbled and a field in Pennsylvania erupted in flames. The greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor was hard to believe at first, even harder to accept.
There were many Americans who were not witnesses – but who lost their lives. Or who suffered injuries that changed them forever. We are here today to remember and honor the thousands who died on this day 10 years ago and to offer words of comfort to those who were left behind.
We must also remember those among us who saw tragedy unfolding and took action. Our first responders acted heroically that day and in the aftermath, and did what they had been trained to do – save lives, restore order, and protect us.
Their actions on this day 10 years ago still evoke pride and gratitude in the community they served.
Not only did we lose thousands of neighbors, friends and family members that day, America lost a sense of security and safety. It was made clear to us on September 11th of 2001 that we cannot take safety and security for granted.
Fairfax County has invested in what is needed to protect and prepare our
community for catastrophic events – whether caused by man or
Since 2002 Fairfax County has sought and received over half a billion dollars in grants from the Department of Homeland Security – funding that has enhanced our capabilities to respond to a disaster.
We have expanded our emergency response team from police and fire to include the Health Department, Public Affairs, and other County players.
Our construction of the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (PSTOC) gave Fairfax County a central location and capability for unprecedented coordination of emergency operations.
We established a County Office of Emergency Management.
During these past years (and especially during these past two weeks) the value of this office and PSTOC has been proven over and over again.
Our personal experiences surrounding September 11th were seared into the memories of Americans that day. One of my memories is about the next day, September 12th.
I was up early and went for a run. It was gorgeous and sunny – just like the day before. All planes had been grounded and I remember thinking how strange and empty the sky seemed.
As I ran through my neighborhood, I began to see – house by house – people displaying the American flag. Flags were also fixed to cars and bridges. By the end of my run, it looked like the 4th of July – only more so. The spontaneous outpouring of patriotism was amazing.
That very evening, working with our Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action (still in its infancy) the County organized an all Faiths candlelight ceremony here at the Government Center. It was a very beautiful, patriotic event and it helped to forge a strong and enduring partnership between the County and the many Faith leaders, organizations and communities who serve us. It continues to this day.
While much was lost on that fateful day of September 11th, 2001 – much was also gained.
I hope this anniversary brings back to us not the horror of what happened on that day, but renews the best of what followed. Fairfax County is a strong, vibrant and diverse community. We care about each other and we respect our differences. We enjoy coming together as a community to address our challenges.
We are made stronger for the hate that was visited upon us.
That’s what I will always remember.
Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors