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State officials remember 9.11

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Paul E. Patton
Governor of Kentucky (1995-2003)

In the moments before the first plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, officials from 18 states had gathered for the annual Southern Governors’ Association conference in Lexington. As governor of Kentucky and chairman of the association, I was hosting the event.

Around 9 a.m. we learned that a plane had crashed into the North Tower. At the time, we believed it to be a terrible accident. Within minutes, we were told the South Tower had also been hit. Quickly finding a room with a television, I, along with West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Mike Foster of Louisiana, and several others, watched with horror and disbelief the destruction and devastation unfolding on the streets of America’s most famous city.

When news of a jet crashing into the Pentagon came across the wires we knew our nation was under attack. The governors needed to get home, but couldn’t fly since all planes had been grounded. We began sending them out with Kentucky State Troopers who coordinated their safe return with law enforcement officers across the south.

In the days that followed, we came together as a country and a commonwealth to pray for those who had paid the ultimate cost in these acts of aggression.

Sept. 11  is a date carved in time for each of us … a date when our feelings of security and innocence were abruptly swept away by the acts of a few determined terrorists, a date when time stood still as millions of Americans were held spellbound as modern technology electronically transferred them to a scene of horror only experienced on one other occasion in our nation’s history.

Never again will any of us watch an airplane soar or gaze upon New York City’s altered skyline without thinking of these horrific events.

Over the past decade the world has observed firsthand the spirit of the American people, a spirit that others have described as a “sleeping giant,” and a giant that reveals its strength and greatness during times of duress and peril. As we mark this significant event in our history, let us pause to remember the bravery and sacrifice of so many heroes and let us continue to ask for God’s blessing on this great nation.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear
(2007 to present)

Few people will ever forget where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.  I was in Dawson Springs for a few days visiting my parents, as their health had been deteriorating.

We were watching television together that morning after breakfast and saw the terrible events as they occurred.  Like many people, we stayed in front of the TV set for the rest of the day, trying to figure out what was happening and what these attacks meant for our country.

I remember feeling mixed emotions — sorrow for all the people who lost their lives and for their families, and anger at those who would perpetrate such a horrendous act.

The war on terrorism certainly escalated that day, and it’s a war that continues even today.  I just returned from a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan, where thousands of Kentuckians are continuing that fight to protect our freedoms. Those servicemen and women deserve our continued support and gratitude.

State Senate President David Williams
Gubernatorial candidate

I was in Louisville that day, having breakfast. The restaurant TV was turned on and I remember thinking that the hole caused by the first plane was too large for a private plane.  Then I saw the second plane hit and knew it wasn’t a terrible accident but an attack on the United States. I felt sickened and everyone was bracing themselves to see what would happen next.

After calling into my Frankfort office to check on where member families were (Sen. Tori’s son was on a commercial flight), I avoided Interstate 65 and drove home past Fort Knox. I remember noticing quite a bit of activity there.

That night, I was eating dinner at a restaurant and they had the TV on to follow the coverage.  At one point, the station played the national anthem and there was not a dry eye in the place afterward.

Gatewood Galbraith
Candidate, Governor of Kentucky

The memory of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, will forever stir the emotions of rage and sadness within me. The rage is directed at those terrorists who target innocent people as a part of their war-mongering; the sadness is for the victims and their families who bore the brunt of it.

I was driving to my law office and listening to WVLK’s Jack Pattie who reported that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade buildings. No details were immediately available and, of course, I believed it was an accident. When he reported the second attack, I was dumbfounded. Who would do such a thing?

Thereafter, like tens of millions of other Americans, I was glued to the nearest TV set and watching in disbelief at the utter destruction and chaos. The later reports of the attack on the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash would only fuel my fervent hopes and resolve that whomever was responsible for this could and would be brought to justice.

Therefore, I was highly gratified when Osama bin Laden was dispatched by a courageous band of U.S. Navy Seals who risked their lives in service to their country. This does not, however, remove the risk of further terrorist attacks on Americans around the world and the lesson we should all take from Sept. 11 is to be forever vigilant in protecting our American way of life from those will never accept the fact that our way cherishes individual and religious freedom.

We are, in fact, at war with those people and let the memory of Sept. 11 remind us never to weaken our resolve to win it.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was still at home preparing to go to the U.S. Capitol when I heard that a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Like most Americans, I was glued to the television and watched the attacks unfold before my eyes. I saw the second plane go into the second tower.

By then, I communicated with the Capitol Police and they advised me to stay away from the Capitol, to not come into the office. I then reached out to my staff to ensure they, like the thousands of others who work in the Senate and House, had safely evacuated the Capitol grounds.

My wife, Elaine Chao, brought some of her employees home with her from the Labor Department, and we continued to watch everything on television. I saw the reports about the plane striking the Pentagon and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania that we now believe was intended to hit the Capitol.

By the end of the day it was clear America was at war, and things would never be the same. I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps to sing “God Bless America” to show the nation and the world that our government was united and unafraid.