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‘We came together’ - Rep. Don Young looks back on 9/11 on Capitol Hill

Updated: Sep. 6, 2021 at 8:30 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Two decades on from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the tragic images remain fresh for many Americans. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was in Washington that day as the nation watched the attacks unfold.

“It’s always a shock. I was pretty proud of America though in the sense that we came together,” said Young.

For Young, 9/11 was the second time he experienced an attack on the U.S. in his life. The first occurred when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. But on the morning of 9/11, Young was on his way to work representing Alaska in Congress.

“I get a call from CJ Zane, he was my chief of staff at that time, he says ‘don’t come in,’” said Young.

The nation’s capital, like the World Trade Center in New York, as under attack.

“Roads are shut down. We turn around immediately,” said Young.

The U.S. Capitol evacuated that day, but Young remembers lawmakers snapping into action in the aftermath, legislating quickly.

On September 14, Congress passed a bipartisan resolution authorizing war. Young and his colleagues would further legislate in the weeks that followed, passing heightened airport and homeland security measures, though Young does not think they were advanced enough.

“As far as terrorists go they’re a really pretty well educated group of people, not just nut heads. And the only thing they’re catching now is nut heads,” said Young.

Young commends the Congress, and all Americans, for unifying after that devastating day. But he says the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks merely accomplished a short term goal.

“This is going to be an interesting area of the world because the hostility still exists there,” said Young. “You didn’t get rid of it but you got rid of it that time in the sense that it was the climax of their hostility toward the United States, and they did a lot of damage.”

Flags at the Capitol Complex will be flown at half-staff marking the day from sunrise until sunset.

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