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Looking Back: Howard Dean's Reflections From The First Anniversary Of Sept. 11

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in a suit and tie
Richard Shotwell
/
Invision via Associated Press File
Howard Dean was Vermont's governor from 1991 to 2003. On the first anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Dean was among a group of Vermonters who shared their thoughts with VPR.

Fourteen years ago, on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, VPR assembled a series of commentaries reflecting on the events, still fresh in our memories. Then-Gov. Howard Dean was among those who offered their thoughts. 

Here are his comments:

Erika Haub and her new husband spent their honeymoon in Vermont in 1997. Four years later, on Sept. 11, Erika became a widow. Her husband Michael, a firefighter in midtown Manhattan, died trying to save those trapped in the Twin Towers. Vermont tree farmers sent Erika Haub and fire stations throughout New York City Christmas trees to ease the grief during that sad holiday.

Vermonters joined a nation in donating time, money and even blood to help our neighbors recover from that tragic attack. Within 48 hours, two Vermont State Police Troopers were helping remove the body of a firefighter from the rubble at Ground Zero. Vermont Air National Guard jets patrolled the skies over New York City. And Vermont children raised money to help the victims' families.

We learned a lot that day... lessons that will continue to shape the future of our state and the entire nation. We discovered that our spirit wasn't easily broken. We watched as planes crashed and buildings burned. We prayed for the victims and their families. And we joined a nation in finding new strength and patriotism. We'll never lose that commitment to our country.

We recognized that the U.S. could not afford to isolate itself from the world family. We in Vermont and the nation at large are linked to global economic, political and trade networks that extend to every area on earth.

And we realized that no matter what our religion, our ethnic background, our gender, our sexual orientation, or race — we are all one family. The heroes of that day came in all shapes, sizes and colors. They spoke different languages and worshiped in different churches. And on Sept. 11, we lived together as a family and we died together as a family.

"I hope we never lose that newfound understanding and commitment to tolerance and equality. My life changed on September 11." — Then-Gov. Howard Dean, Sept. 2002

I hope we never lose that newfound understanding and commitment to tolerance and equality. My life changed on Sept. 11. I knew people who lost their lives on that day, and I began to wonder about the security of my family, and my state and my country.

But like most Americans, I gained much more than I lost on that day. I realized that the American strengths and values that terrorists hate cannot be destroyed with planes or weapons - and that we must cherish and protect our ideals.

I realized that I have neighbors a block away, a state away, a nation away and a world away. And I realized that we must all give back just as Vermonters gave Christmas trees, money and blood.

Out of the tragedy of Sept. 11 came the ultimate gift to our nation: Hope.

This commentary originally aired Sept. 11, 2002.

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