Today, we pause to honor the 72 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty nine years ago on September 11, 2001. We remember not only their heroic sacrifice, but their unflinching courage and devotion to their duty to the protect the American people. September11, 2001 remains the deadliest in law enforcement history and to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder, joined by Board members and staff from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, solemnly read a roll call of fallen heroes before placing a wreath at the Memorial wall. All 72 names are carved continuously on line 23 beginning at panel 9-W and ending on panel 22-W.
In his remarks, Attorney General Holder shared the stories of officers such as Mitchel Wallace, from the New York State Court, who, on his way to work, saw the towers and ran in to the World Trade Center. “When Officer Mitchel arrived at the World Trade Center, which was engulfed in flames and flying debris, he called his fiancé. She frantically urged him to stay away. “It’s an attack,” she declared, “not an accident!” But Officer Mitchel had already made his choice. He simply and resolutely responded: “I have to help.”
Stories like Officer Wallace’s are extraordinary but not uncommon for 9-11. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Officer Richard Guadagno was aboard Flight 93 and was one of the passengers who fought to regain control of the airplane from the terrorists. There are countless other stories of officers, off duty, on vacation, rushing to the WTC to help in any way they could.
“Officer James Lynch was out on sick leave when he heard the horrific news about the Twin Towers. But he did not hesitate. He phoned his co-captain and announced, “I’m going in.”
“Officer David LeMagne, barely one year on the job, was at his PATH post in Jersey City. He was told to stay put. But, citing his training as a paramedic, he asked to be sent into the storm.”
“At the World Trade Center, New York Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca sprinted up 78 flights of stairs – as others around him raced down.”
In closing, the Attorney General shared that, “…for me, for many of you, and for so many Americans, the engravings on this wall are more than names on a memorial. They are smiles, spirits, personalities, moments, first encounters –and last words. They are personal memories etched forever on our hearts. “
Holder’s full remarks are available at http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2010/ag-speech-100911.html.