BISMARCK—A mother who lost her daughter in the Twin Towers. A father still grieving a son killed in war. A police officer who reported for duty on his day off to help at ground zero.
North Dakotans whose lives changed after Sept. 11, 2001, shared their stories Sunday at the state Capitol on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against America.
Gov. Jack and Betsy Dalrymple hosted the event to remember those who died and to honor first responders and the military for their service.
“As a result of that dark day, our nation and world were forever changed and now, 10 years later, we reflect on the significance of 9/11 and how it has impacted all Americans,” the governor said. “No matter our age, gender, religion or ethnicity, we all emerged from that day as Americans, united in our desire to help others and to not only recover, but to rebuild an even stronger nation.”
More than 60 American flags were on display outside the Capitol prior to the event, carried by members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard. Their motorcycles lined the Capitol’s front drive— along with fire trucks, ambulances and police cars—as a few hundred people sat on the lawn to listen to the event’s speakers.
Lincoln, N.D., police officer Marcel Sim was a paramedic with the New York Police Department on Sept. 11, 2001. He was off duty that day but went to work anyway and worked for a week straight helping at ground zero.
“I don’t consider myself a hero,” he said. “I’m a public servant and when the call goes out, we respond. That’s what we do.”
Jenette Nelson of Stanley, N.D., whose daughter Ann died in the World Trade Center, said each 9/11 family has a unique story to tell, but there are common threads among them all.
“We know that 3,000 people died that day, but the pain and anguish and sorrow of those who remain behind cannot be measured,” she said.
Nelson has worked to keep her daughter’s memory alive throughout the past 10 years and had a message for her daughter on Sunday.
“I’ve tried to share the terrible pain of losing you with those around me so that they will join me in an effort to eliminate hate, violence and war from the face of this earth,” she said. “I have tried because I know that this is what you would want to be your legacy.”
Paul Goodiron of Mandaree, N.D., whose son Nathan was killed while serving in Afghanistan, said the day was a chance for North Dakota to remember its fallen heroes.
“Today, North Dakota says their names aloud for all to hear,” he said. “Today, North Dakota resurrects the memories of those fallen soldiers. Though they lay in hallowed ground throughout North Dakota, the freedom we enjoy from their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., were also at the event. Both praised first responders and the military, particularly the North Dakotans who died while serving the country the past 10 years.
“As we remember today, let’s commit ourselves to remember every day, every day, those who put everything on the line, who made the ultimate sacrifice, for our freedom and for our liberty,” Hoeven said.
Sept. 11, 2001, took some of our innocence away but did not change what America is about, Berg said. The nation pledges allegiance to ideals of liberty and justice for all, he said.
“Physical attacks on America cannot stop these freedoms and this liberty and justice we have for all because it’s in each one of us,” he said.