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Never forgetting 9/11

By Scott Walker

This column was first published in The Washington Times

Andrea Haberman was just 25 years old when she was killed by a bunch of radical Islamic terrorists. She was one of the 2,977 innocent people who were murdered on September 11, 2001, in New York City, at the Pentagon in Virginia, and in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.

Life had been good for Andrea before September 11th. She was a small-town Wisconsin girl who had met her fiancé at St. Norbert College. They were set to marry the following year and had spent that summer planning the wedding.

Al Kolodzik and Andrea had purchased a home, had decent jobs, and were preparing to start a family. The brokerage firm where she worked sent her to the World Trade Center for meetings at their New York office. It was her first trip to the Big Apple.

Andrea Haberman almost did not go on that trip. Her first two flights had been canceled due to the weather. Al suggested she come home and fly out the next day. Her strong work ethic kept her from backing out of the next flight, which landed in New York that evening.

Andrea and Al had a game they would play where they would compete to see who could call the other one first when they were apart. She won that day as she was already in the Carr Future offices high in the North Tower. She wanted to get there early for her meeting.

September 11, 2001, was a clear, sunny, beautiful day in New York. Andrea could see the Statue of Liberty as she talked to Al. Her call didn’t last more than a few minutes. She really did not want to be there and she told Al she missed him.

At 8:45am ET, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It hit the floor above Andrea and there was no chance for her to escape. The giant hole near the 80th floor killed hundreds of people in an instant and trapped many more in the higher levels.

My wife Tonette was at work early that morning and she called while I was getting our sons ready for school. She told me to turn on the television to see the news reports about a plane crash. Initially, many of the broadcasters thought it was some sort of accident. Only later did we all learn that this was a planned attack by radical Islamic terrorists.

While people were trying to evacuate the World Trade Center complex, about 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a United Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the south tower near the 60th floor. I remember the abrupt change on the broadcast news as the anchors realized what had happened—and so did the rest of us who were watching the live broadcast: America was under attack.

Officials scrambled to react to the situation in New York. At the same time, an American Airlines Flight Boeing 757 circled over the nation’s capital before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:45am ET. The flight that took off from Dulles International Airport was destined for Los Angeles and was filled with jet fuel that caught fire and caused massive damage to the military headquarters.

On that day, I was in a carpool traveling to the Wisconsin State Capitol. Near the exit for Delafield, I can still remember the announcer saying that the south tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed. All of us in the vehicle thought they had misspoken. Soon after, we heard them announce that the north tower had collapsed to the ground. It was totally surreal.

We learned later about a fourth plane—United Flight 93–that was hijacked after taking off from Newark Liberty International Airport. An amazing group of courageous passengers fought the four hijackers and crashed the plane at 10:10am ET in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Radical Islamic terrorists financed by Osama bin Laden-led al Qaeda targeted landmarks that symbolized the economic and political power of the United States of America. They wanted to terrorize us and turn us away from protecting our freedoms.

We can never forget what happened on September 11th. Most students, college-aged and younger, were not born when these terrorists murdered 2,977 innocent people. One of them was Andrea Haberman. She was not much older than most college students when they killed her. She would be 46 today.  She never got to live her dreams: Marrying Al and having tons of children while pursuing a wonderful career.

Young America’s Foundation sponsors the 9/11: Never Forget Project each year to put up 2,977 flags at schools across the country.  We must ensure that students never forget what happened to us, who did it to us, and why they did it. We must never forget.

Read more at The Washington Times.

  • Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.

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