By Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I awoke, as all Americans did, to the horrific scenes of our nation under attack and the surreal visual evidence unfolding live on national television. For baby boomers like myself and members of Gen-X, this was our Pearl Harbor.
The unfathomable had occurred: foreign terrorist had managed to attack Americans on American soil. Not only did they succeed in hijacking planes, they hijacked our national psyche, our emotions, and our lives, if only for a day.
The next day, however, the light returned. And through the clouds of dust we witnessed the beginning of a new America with the first national act being the raising of our flag onto a makeshift poll by three members of the New York City Fire Department at ground zero.
As a Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, and the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, I recall the anxiety and fear felt by all as we tried to determine a course of action to secure City Hall and the City of Los Angeles from any further attacks on a major metropolitan all the while trying to make sense of what was occurring in real-time.
Information was pouring in from every law enforcement agency imaginable on possible attack scenarios. We acted swiftly and decisively to protect our city and its residents.
In the days that followed new leaders across the nation rose to the occasion - calming fears and providing information and resources to constituents, families, and friends. They were not all politicians or law enforcement some were teachers, others were faith leaders, and some were moms and dads – but they all were leaders.
And since that tragic day, we continue to honor those innocent souls who perished and the heroes that rushed into the buildings to save lives even at the risk of losing their own.
Twenty years later we continue to reflect on where we were, what we saw, and how we felt on that infamous day. And every year since we continue to rebuild our national psyche, our emotional health, and a life of pride knowing our nation is resilient and resourceful during times of crisis.
Today, I ask that we say prayers for those most affected by the loss and tragedy of 9/11 and those who continue to deal with its repercussions all these years later.
Our resolve is to move forward without ever forgetting our strength as a nation when put to the test by adversaries – foreign or domestic.