On the Hill with Denver Riggleman
September 13, 2019
Eighteeen years ago, America experienced the worst act of terrorism in its history. Nearly 3,000 people were killed, with many others in emergency services and law enforcement suffering long-lasting health complications, sometimes resulting in death. September 11, 2001, a day none of us will ever forget, had a deep and lasting impact on the lives of all Americans. I was one of the thousands who answered to call to serve and to hunt down those responsible.
When I woke on that tragic day, I was serving in the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer at Mountain Home Air Force in Idaho with the 366th AEW Wing, 34th Bomb Squadron---the B-1 Bombers. I was and am a proud Mountain Home Gunfighter. Our squadron deployed almost immediately as the “on-call” wing. By early October, I and my brothers and sisters in arms were mission planning the first bombing runs into Afghanistan.
I still remember the morning of September 11th- memories come into my mind as vividly as if they were yesterday:
Buttoning the buttons on my uniform when my wife yelled at me up the stairs that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York.
A phone call seconds later that I- in no uncertain terms- needed to get my butt into work.
Working through the night while the base was in lockdown and much of the country was in a fog.
My memories are not unique and every American has a different viewpoint on what happened that day- some lost friends or family, and the tragedy we as a nation felt that day should not be forgotten.
But the impact of those attacks was not limited to that day and history will write that heroic Americans responded with valor and bravery.
One of the most heinous acts ever committed on American soil did not bring us down but brought us together. In the words of former President George W. Bush, “One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history.”
Less than 24 hours after the first plane hit the towers in New York, deployment orders came. I still remember the feeling—standing on the tarmac and then watching from the plane as my 3 daughters- all younger than 10 years old- waved small American flags from down below.
I was deployed to active duty and would be spending the next weeks planning bombing runs on Afghanistan to respond to the attacks. Our armed forces are asked to make sacrifices- leaving their families is often one of them. But after 9/11, when so many more American families had sacrificed so much more, my brothers and sisters in arms were willing to make that sacrifice—inspired by the heroism of so many fire fighters, first responders, law enforcement, and citizens who answered the call, we knew that America would emerge stronger.
18 years later we remember the heroes of 9/11, honor their sacrifice, and admire their patriotism. Their memories will last forever because we will never forget what they gave for us. Service members, firefighters, law enforcement, first responders and hero citizens answered the call. I was proud to serve with heroes like General Seve Wilson, Bull, Bullet, Eli, Scar, Jimbo, Rooster, Mongo, IROC, Stainless, Lost, Krenkle, Frengle, Sgt Lowery, Migo, Psycho, Sassy, Atteberry and so many more. From Ground Zero in New York to the Pentagon and across the country, American heroes answered the call and we are forever in their debt. God Bless the United States of America.
Denver Lee Riggleman III,
Member of Congress
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