19 years ago, on September 11, 2001, there was a terrorist attack on the heart of our country. Nineteen men hijacked 4 US commercial airplanes with intentions to damage and destroy. The horrific images of the airline hijackings and suicide attacks, which caused extensive death and destruction in New York City; Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, are indefinitely etched into our memories. Approximately 2,753 people were killed in New York, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania (where one of the hijacked planes crashed after the passengers attempted to retake the plane); all 19 terrorists died. Our mindset and our missions changed that day.
It is a day we will never forget. It is a day that changed the way of life for not only the victims and their families, but for every American citizen. Because very few of us ever thought we could be terrorized in America, it showed a sense of vulnerability that many of us had not ever experienced. We all remember where we were and what we were doing on 09/11/2001. It changed the way we think and the way we go about our daily lives. It caused wars; it caused the president to create the Homeland Security Office, and increase safety and security methods.
Law enforcement agencies across the country were also greatly impacted and changed by this tragic event. On 09/11/2001, hundreds of police and fire departments in New York rushed to the scene of the attacks, where more than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed. I still find myself filled with pride for the military and emergency responders who sprung into action that day.
I also am proud to have the opportunity to work with men and women who are just as dedicated to serving this community. Not only do law officers have their normal, 'everyday criminals' to deal with, but active shooters and suicide bombers, situations that weren't previously a thought, have been added to their daily duties. These have now become situations that law officers have to plan for, practice for, and be on guard against.
As first responders, we all make the decision, despite the obvious risks, to get up every day and serve our community, hoping to make a difference; hoping to make it a safer place for all of us to raise our families.
Although it is an uncertain world, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is doing everything we possibly can, working day and night, to ensure the safety of our citizens and it is an honor.
On this day, it is important to remember the victims and their families, but the selflessness and bravery of those who risked their own lives in order to help others during the 9/11 attacks must NEVER be forgotten.
Lafayette Woods, Jr. Sheriff