Dawn Rye | Writer
Sept. 11, 2001, remains one of the most pivotal points in American history for police officers, military personal, firefighters, first responders and local volunteers. It was the day the United States was attacked by the Islamic extremist group, al Qaeda. They hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks in various areas of the United States.
Two planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and killed thousands of civilians. Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.
Because of those attacks, thousands of brave Americans volunteered to serve in the military to protect our homeland. Local National Guard E4 veteran Lance Weiler said he joined the service in 1999 and was part of the multiple rocket launcher crew.
Weiler was working at Auto Max in Sioux Falls during 9/11 when the employees heard about the first plane on the radio. Then moved to the waiting area and watched the second plane hit on TV.
“I got on the phone immediately and called and volunteered for anything they needed. If the National Guard was going, I wanted to go,” commented Weiler.
After doing security at the Sioux Falls AirPort for several months, Weiler deployed to Baghdad in 2006 with a team from Michigan. His second deployment was in 2009 with a South Dakota Guard unit that was called to serve in Kuwait.
As a veteran of 9/11, Weiler believes it should be celebrated like Memorial Day and it upsets him when people forget all the volunteers that lost their lives trying to save others. Anyone under 20 doesn’t understand what happened that day and what it meant for this county. Weiler explained he was outraged by the attack. He began taking steps to secure his home and family because he wanted to be prepared if something happened.
“Not that the mid-west is a big target for anything. But we have a lot of missile silos,” noted Weiler.
He said the United States has always been a world power country and people from other countries can still come to the states and do damage.
Anything could happen at any point in time, and to him, he believes there is a better chance of an attack now than there was back then.
If someone could walk a mile in first responder’s shoes, they would know what it is like to have to deal with injuries, death and destruction. Plus, the long-term effects it could have on an individual, which can be devastating.
Thank you, to all who have, and do, stand by to server and protect our great nation.