Remembering September 11th
by Shirlene Ostrov, Hawaii GOP Chair
I will always remember September 11 and where I was the exact moment the towers fell. It was a day that was meant to break our spirit, an attack on the heart of America. But we didn't break. We emerged stronger. What I remember the most is how inspired I was of the firefighters that ran into burning buildings to save lives, of how rescuers worked in the Pentagon and how ordinary citizens saved Flight 93 from crashing into the Capitol. I will remember how that day forever changed our nation, but also I felt a renewed sense of devotion to freedom. I was already serving our nation as the towers fell, but it was on this day that my husband and I dedicated our lives to continued service. It took us (and our then 10-month-old twins) on a journey all over the world, and one we would do all over again. We vowed, as a family, that we would never let them win.
Our journey brought me to many places and I’d love to share my diary entry from one of my many deployments, in a land far away from family and the comforts of home. On this particular day, none of that mattered. This diary entry reflects everything I feel on every September 11, and a reminder of what is important:
“It was a day I'll long remember...but when I woke early to get to work I had no idea my day would end the way it did. It was a typically busy day that was long and arduous, and I was looking forward to the dinner hour so I could take a leisurely hour to myself when we received a message that three fallen warriors were heading our way. As soon as I heard, I stopped breathing for a split second. I knew that three families back home in the United States probably just got the most dreadful news that their husband, son, father, cousin, brother was killed in action today... these warrior have paid the "last full measure of devotion" to our nation. I said a silent prayer for the rest of the evening as our base prepared to receive them on their way home.
A group of us gathered in the dark hours of the night on the ramp of our base to watch the C-17 download its melancholy cargo. Three flag draped coffins that held my brothers...they were brothers I never met, but they were my brothers nonetheless. Our honor guard dressed in battle uniforms and boots went to their methodical work. I was amazed by the practiced ritual and repetition as we carefully rendered quiet and dignified honors to our fallen brothers. I swear as we moved the coffins one by one (to be housed here for mere hours as the next plane was preparing for the long journey to American soil), I swear that even though we were standing out in the warm night air in a faraway and strange land, I was certain that every single service member out there could hear my hearting beating its loud and mournful cadence, openly sobbing, virtually breaking for these young men and the families they left behind. I realized that it wasn't my heart after all. I realized that as we all collectively held our breath for those long, painful minutes, the beat I heard actually was the tread of the boots of the honor guard members, solemnly carrying our brothers to a temporary holding area until we could get them ready for their flight home.
There's no fanfare here. No bugles, no parades, no pageantry. Just profound and deafening quiet, respect, and above all...dignity. Rendering honors to a fallen brother or sister is perhaps the most humbling duty I have, I am so proud to do so and at the same time, never hope to ever do it again. But it is the business we are in, it is evitable. Dreadful and inevitable. So as we slowly raise our salutes, a million thoughts race through my minds. Do my fellow Americans truly understand the price we are paying for freedom? Do the families, friends, and loved ones know how much these warriors are loved and cared for by their brothers and sisters around the world, especially on their long journey home? And most of all, did our fallen warriors understand the magnitude of honor and respect their nation has for them and everything they have sacrificed?
I am positive the answer to all these questions are "yes, absolutely." And I believe it because it is what keeps me going. As I look around and see so many young Airmen out here on the tarmac, most of whom CHOSE to be up past midnight to render honors to these brothers they never met and 100% of them are voluntarily serving our country in uniform (voluntarily!!!), I realize that our nation is in good hands. This is not just "another salute" for us. No, this is not just "another somber prayer" for us, either. This is another family's life shattered and another necessary and reverent ritual for my fellow warriors.
Farewell, my fallen brothers. And I promise you that your story will be told. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. God Bless you, God Bless your families you leave behind, and God Bless the United States of America.”
With great respect to all,
Shirlene Ostrov, Chairman
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From Honolulu Republican Party September 11, 2017
Today marks the 16th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the 5th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Let us remember:
On September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within two hours, both towers collapsed with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the WTC complex, as well as major damage to ten other large surrounding structures.
A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense), leading to a partial collapse in its western side.
The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was targeted at Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its brave passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.
In total, 2,977 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians on the four planes and 412 first responders in New York City.
On September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of militant terrorists attacked the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya. The attack began at night in a compound meant to protect the main diplomatic building. A second assault in the early morning the next day targeted a nearby CIA annex in a different compound. Four Americans were killed, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. Ten others were injured.
Although this attack took place in Libya, it happened on American soil. Our embassies and consulates are U.S. soil, and the attack in Libya violated a U.S. territory. These terrorist attacks are as heinous as if they happened in Honolulu.
We will never forget!
September 11, 2001 and 2012 Tribute
President Trump is committed to never allowing this to happen again. Peace through strength is at the center of his “America First Foreign Policy,” and defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups will be his highest priority.
Let Us Pray. As we remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice on these days. Let us also remember the families and loved ones they left behind, and the pain this day brings. Please pray that God comforts them in their time of sorrow.
God Bless America,
Honolulu County Chairman
LINK: Donate to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Help build a lasting place for remembrance, reflection and learning for years to come.