Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Mr. Speaker, 6 years ago today, most Americans were going about their business, and then we woke up to the next day, September 11, 2001. I was not yet in Congress at that time, but I was a judge in Texas. And I was driving to the courthouse when I was listening to country western music, and it was interrupted about an airplane that crashed into the World Trade Center. And a few minutes later, a second airplane crashed into the World Trade Center.

   And about that time, as I was driving my jeep, I noticed that other folks on the road had pulled off to the side of the road, all doing the same thing, listening to the radio, hearing the news from New York. And then we heard more news. We heard about a third airplane, where some good folks in Pennsylvania took matters into their own hands. And later we learned why that plane crashed in Pennsylvania; it did not crash in Washington, D.C. at the White House or even this Capitol. And finally, we heard about a fourth airplane, a plane that crashed not far from here into the Pentagon.

   And at the end of that day, like many Americans, I was watching television and noticed all of the news reports about the World Trade Center and about the Pentagon, and followed that day, as most Americans, intensely observing and being concerned about our country.

   As I was watching television that afternoon, over the skies of Houston, Texas, where I'm from, the 147th Air National Guard were flying those F-16s on patrol over our skies and over our refineries, over our ports. But as I was watching television, I noticed that when those planes hit the World Trade Center, that there were thousands and thousands of people, good people, people of all races, all nationalities, both sexes and all ages, when those planes hit the World Trade Center, they were trying to get away from that terror in the sky as fast as they could. They were running as hard as they could. Nothing wrong with that, but that's what they were doing, fleeing that enemy that attacked us on our soil.

   But I also noticed that there was another group of people, not very many, but as soon as those planes hit the World Trade Center, they were running as hard as they could to get to that terror that had crashed into our buildings in New York City. Who were they? Emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers, because that's what they do; they respond first to terror, domestic or international.

   And while today, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we remember the thousands of people who died on September 11, 2001, it's equally important that we remember the people who lived, that were allowed to live because our police officers, our firefighters and our emergency technical folks were on the job, saving those lives of those people who were in the World Trade Center. Amazing Americans, those individuals, many of whom lost friends that were trying to get into the World Trade Center, people that they had known all their lives, but they did it because it is their duty and because it was the right thing to do.

   Of course we have to remember and need to remember the plane that crashed into the Pentagon as well. And across the street from the Pentagon is Arlington National Cemetery, where we bury America's warriors from all wars since the war between the States. And on duty that day, when that plane came low across this land and crashed into the Pentagon, at Arlington National Cemetery, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, those soldiers were on duty. They did not leave their post. They stayed there throughout the entire episode. Amazing people, our military.

   So it'