The attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania shocked all Americans in the days and weeks that followed 9/11. For some, time and distance would allow those events to fade into history. For others, the sights and sounds of that day and those that followed are as vivid and impactful now as they were twenty years ago.
Almost 3,000 people died on that day, and more have perished over time as a result of injuries and associated illnesses. In addition to losing New York Special Agent Leonard Hatton on 9/11, we have since lost seventeen other FBI employees to diseases brought on by exposure to toxic materials.
The FBI had countless employees who served as first responders on 9/11 and thousands who deployed to the scenes over the next weeks and months. The resulting counterterrorism investigation was the largest in the history of the Bureau.
Most people alive at the time can remember that exact moment they first heard about the attack. They remember seeing the images of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. The gaping hole in the Pentagon. The crater in Pennsylvania.
For some, these images are just memories - memories not forgotten, but perhaps muted by time.
For others, this 20th anniversary is a very personal event marked by powerful recollections from time spent on the front lines. These aren't easy memories to relive, but they are an important touchstone for who we are and why we do the work we do.
I offer to you the stories of four FBI Portland employees, including myself, who responded to the 9/11 scenes or who were inspired to find a way to join in service to our country. You can view those videos here: (https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/stories/remembering-911-portland-fbi-employees-share-their-experiences).
As we head into this anniversary weekend, I encourage all Oregonians to take a moment both to reflect on the lives lost and to consider how each of us can, in our own way, make a positive difference in our country’s future.