Voices from Arlington — Ron Carlee

Voices from Arlington — Ron Carlee

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.