September 15, 2010
Washington, DC –Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the East Front Steps of the U.S. Capitol to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Like so many other Americans, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Wagner woke up that Tuesday, picked up her briefcase and went to the office. Barbara Edwards woke up that Tuesday, packed up her suitcase and went to the airport. A day that started like every other ended like no other we’ve ever known.
“And as evening fell for the first time after the twin towers fell, Congress came here and stood on these steps. Hand-in-hand, and at Senator Mikulski’s request, we sang ‘God Bless America.’ Nine years later, we still pray for the same. We still swear allegiance, as the song says, to a land that’s free. We still raise our solemn voices as one.
“In the years that have passed we have thought often about the first responders who acted heroically. We think about the civilians who acted instinctively and became heroes in their final moments. We think about and thank the brave volunteers who every day redefine heroism halfway around the world.
“And we remember the thousands we lost. From the other side of this Capitol building, we can look across to the other side of the river. Everyone who was here that day will forever remember seeing the smoke that stretched from the horizon to the heavens while the Pentagon smoldered.
“Colonel Wagner was in her office there. Barbara Edwards was on the plane that hit there. Both were daughters of Nevada. They touched so many before that terrible day, and countless more since then.
“Colonel Wagner played guard on the UNLV women’s basketball team – but she was most interested in guarding her country. She graduated from the school’s ROTC program and spent the next 17 years in an Army uniform – most of those years at Walter Reed, where she rose to run its personnel services branch. She got a desk at the Pentagon a month before it was attacked.
“Barbara Edwards also came from Las Vegas, where she was a mother, a grandmother, and a French and German teacher at Palo Verde High School. She came east that week to visit relatives and to dance at a friend’s wedding. On September 11, she was flying back to Las Vegas to celebrate her best friend’s birthday.
“There’s a memorial at the high school where Madame Edwards, as her students called her, founded an international club to help students understand different cultures. Her monument bears the phrase ‘We Will Never Forget,’ written three times, in three languages.
“Colonel Wagner’s sister, Kim, called Karen the kind of person who never forgot anyone she ever met.
“Neither Nevada nor the nation will ever forget either one of them, or any of the others we lost.
“Today we stand once again on this side of the river and remember what happened on the other, and in New York, and in Pennsylvania. Once again, we stand united and determined. Once again, we stand together on these steps.
“They are steps we know might not be standing without the courage of American heroes we’ll never meet. And as we mourn, we know what it is to be thankful.”