Letter: Remembering those taken from us

REP MICA and MICHAEL GOLDRepresentative John L. Mica
2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Editor:

As our nation reflects upon the day of the terrorist attacks ten years ago tomorrow, I cannot forget my friends who were killed by terrorists that day.

Some seven weeks before September 11, 2001, I spent several days in New York City with Neal Levin, Executive Director of the Port Authority New York and New Jersey. I met Neal when he was the Legislative Director to Senator Al D’Amato of New York and when I was Chief of Staff to Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida. In early 2001, he became Director of the Port Authority, just as I became Chairman of the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee in Congress.

With New York area airports under his authority, he called on me as an old friend to come to New York, review the air congestion problem and conduct a hearing on the matter. I obliged my friend Neal and after visiting John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia Airports, held a hearing in the Port Authority Hearing Room in the World Trade Center.

After the hearing, Neal hosted me and several other guests in the Port Authority’s Dining Room adjacent to the Windows of the World Restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. It was in that same room where I left Neal and the others who assisted me that they all met their deaths on Tuesday, September 11th.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld invited me and several other Members of Congress to a breakfast meeting at the Pentagon. Our discussion that day was how to rebuild our nation’s military capability that had been downsized under the outgoing Clinton Administration. Specific to the conversation was how our stretched and limited military could muster the resources to deal with a future engagement.

As the meeting concluded near 9:00 a.m., I was speaking with the Defense Secretary at the end of the conference table as word of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center reached us. Then we were told of the second attack. While the Secretary stepped into his adjacent office, I conferred with several of his top aides about the situation. Missing my ride back to Capitol Hill, I sought a ride to the House Office Building and arrived just as the plane hit the Pentagon.

Killed in the Pentagon, where I had departed just minutes before, was Terry Lynch who worked as a U.S. Senate staffer for Alabama Senator Richard Shelby. Terry and I were friends from our U.S. Senate staff days. On Flight 77, was Barbara Olsen who worked with me on the House Government Reform Committee. She was a brilliant and most capable professional and a dear friend who was killed by fanatic terrorists.

While ten years have passed, I can never forget these friends or the manner in which they were taken from us; and their families. As Americans, we are blessed with a life most of the world can only dream about. While we go about our lives, we should not and cannot ever forget those taken from us on September 11th

John L. Mica
Winter Park, Florida

Rep. Mica is the Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District that includes St. Johns County.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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