Remembering September 11, 2001

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Evacuating the White House after watching the national news coverage of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center was my personal experience of September 11, 2001. I arrived early that morning and had the TV on in my office and was chatting with a colleague. It was a Tuesday, the second day of the White House fall internship program that I oversaw.

The first headline scrolling across the screen that got my attention went something like: Breaking News: Small commuter plane crashes into World Trade Center. My first though was that the pilot had a heart attack. Then I saw the image of the actual hole in the Trade Center building. As I was examining this, the second plane appeared and made a hard left into the second tower. The words came out of my mouth, “We’re under attack.”

I remember the stunned silence among the individuals sitting in my office. I called over to the West Wing. No one answered and someone always answers that phone, all 365 days of the year. Then, we heard commotion in the hallways. I opened the door and people were running. The next thing I know the Secret Service was in my office telling us to evacuate. I left with 10-12 interns and met my colleagues at a friend’s house in northwest D.C. As we drove there, we saw smoke billowing from the Pentagon. Since then, I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Pentagon was a secondary target to the White House.

Despite the shock we all had, we showed up to work the next day. But, we were profoundly changed. Nothing would ever be the same. That terrible tragedy put the United States onto a new course and changed the way we talk about foreign policy and border security.

The War on Terror continues today. Just recently, we’ve seen terrible setbacks in that war, the loss of many good men and women who were part of the Oklahoma-based 45th Infantry.

September 11, 2001, also stands as a testament to the courage of our soldiers and all those who prevented the further loss of lives. The passengers of Flight 93 were able to prevent their hijackers from reaching their intended target. Firefighters and policemen in New York City and Washington, D.C., gave their lives rescuing strangers from the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The brave men and women of our U.S. military and their families have sacrificed to prevent future attacks.

I am very grateful for the freedoms my family and I enjoy in our country. I am also thankful for those men and women who sacrifice everything to provide us those freedoms. They give us peace of mind and in return, we give them our respect and gratitude. Let us never forget and always remember the day we were attacked so boldly and so terribly.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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