Most everyone remembers where they were on 9/11. I was in Coronado, California, as a BUD/S Instructor, training future Navy SEALs. As the news showed pictures of the horror and devastation, it became clear to me that the world as we all knew it would change. I immediately knew those young men I was training would have very different careers in the SEALs than I had.
That day, terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and another into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Their collective actions killed almost 3,000 people.
A fourth flight, Flight 93 from New York to San Francisco, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Instead of letting the terrorists reach their destination, likely our Nation’s Capital, the crew and passengers fought back. In the direst of circumstances, they summoned the courage to rush the cockpit and change the course of history. Today, I am with Vice President Mike Pence to attend a remembrance ceremony for those 40 heroes from Flight 93 and all the victims of 9/11.
One of those heroes from Flight 93 was a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) employee, Richard Guadagno. After the crash, it was impossible to recover almost anything that was on the plane. A month later, however, investigators were searching the crash site, and there it was—Mr. Guadagno’s FWS badge, fully intact and resting in a nearby tree. Yesterday, I saw his badge on display at the Memorial’s Visitor Center.
It reminded me of the service and sacrifice made by thousands of Department of the Interior employees to this day. From first responders to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to firefighters across the West and everyone in between, let me say that your bravery and dedication is awe-inspiring. The whole Nation is grateful for your lifesaving work. Unfortunately, our job is not over. We will continue to be asked to serve the citizens of our great Nation as we recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, fight wildfires across the West, and prepare for more hurricanes on the way.
When tragedy strikes, Americans mourn as one people, under one flag. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. Today, we come together to grieve with those who lost loved ones that fateful day, and to pledge never to forget September 11, 2001. Let our constant vigilance in the face of our enemies serve as a testament to the unshakable resolve of our great Nation.
Secretary Ryan K. Zinke