As we remember and honor those who died on Sept. 11, it is also a time to
reflect on how we responded and how we can ensure the protection of the
community in the future.
The most compelling lesson for me is teamwork. The praise Arlington has received
for our response is directly related to our ability to work with others: the
FBI, the military, responders from across the region and nation — and to work
well among ourselves.
We honor the bravery of the men and women who put their lives at risk that day.
Only after walking through the collapsed building and along the charred roof of
the Pentagon, could I begin to imagine the heroism and selflessness of all who
responded to the inferno.
Public safety workers say it is just their job — but it is a job that requires
special people, with whom I have felt a bond having gone through Sept. 11
To do their jobs, they need a team behind them. Literally every Arlington
agency was involved in the Pentagon response: handling the flood of 911 calls,
supporting the families of victims, refueling equipment, inspecting food,
collecting trash, operating hotlines, building communications networks,
procuring and organizing supplies, processing payroll, getting the airport
reopened — and the list goes on.
Not even I know everyone who participated or what they did. I do know that even
dedicated workers need to feel supported — and we all did so, certainly by the
elected officials, and by the outpouring from the community. The calls, the
cards, the displaying of flags everywhere sent a strong message that this
community was united.
By Saturday, Sept. 15, we were all exhausted. As I drove home to get some rest
that afternoon, my mind flashed back to the faces of people with whom I had
spent the week. Some I had known for over 20 years and some I had just met — and
all were deeply committed to doing anything necessary to support this community
regardless of the emergency. Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion, realizing
that there was no better group of men and women anywhere.
In an emergency, Arlington is where I want to be.