Across the nation, people woke up on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001 thinking it was going to be just like every other day. They ate breakfast, dropped their children off, and went to work. That all changed at 8:14 a.m. when the first tower was struck by a plane at the iconic World Trade Center. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news, many of us glued to the television watching as we learned more and more about a terrorist attack on our nation. We stared in disbelief as another plane hit the second tower, then the Pentagon, and soon we learned of an incredible sacrifice made in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

While we watched, thousands of firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and other rescue workers rushed to the scene. As first responders rushed into the collapsed buildings, they rescued as many people as possible. 1,977 people died that day, 415 of them were first responders who never made it back out. They gave their lives helping those who could not help themselves, rushing into eminent danger to save as many people as they could. Their sacrifice on that day will never be forgotten, and it is more important than ever we honor the sacrifice of our first responders. Even today, those who were at Ground Zero are feeling the effects of what they experienced. Many have been diagnosed with illnesses caused by what they were exposed to.

In the weeks and months that followed and the task turned from rescue to recovery, first responders from communities around the country, even some from here in Kentucky, helped with efforts at the site.

Twenty-one years later, people are still reminded of what happened that Tuesday morning, whether it be they lost a family member, they were in New York City that day, or have health-related issues because of what was in the air. But without first responders answering the call, many other people would have been lost and it is important we thank the fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, and other first responders for answering the call when we need it the most.

In the last 21 years, America has experienced so much hurt but first responders have always been there to lend a helping hand. Across America, we have seen loss like no other through heinous crimes, terrorist attacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic, but answering the call, running into the fire, through unsafe conditions, and overall uncertainty, our first responders have always been there for us.

Police officers, firefighters, and EMTs are on the front lines of emergencies and crisis, putting them in dangerous situations. The last two years we have seen first responders constantly put to the test. They have endured the COVID-19 pandemic, being the first ones at a scene constantly exposed to the disease. Last December, tragedy struck Western Kentucky when a tornado left destruction in its path, but our first responders were there helping evacuate, rescue, and search through rubble finding survivors. Most recently, tragedy struck Eastern Kentucky, with devastating floods destroying homes, schools, and towns, but the first people out there were our first responders and emergency response teams.

There is not enough gratitude to give these men and women because they have done so much for not only Kentucky but across the country. They heed the call when it is made and are there to help those who need it the most. Without our fire fighters, police officers, and paramedics, countless lives could have been lost in these tragedies, but because they were there, parents went home to their children and families were made whole again. We can go to school, work, and home knowing our first responders will keep us safe and be there when we cannot help ourselves, and for that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude.

As always, I hope you will contact me with any questions or concerns. You can reach me here at home in our district or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at, 1-800-372-7181. If you would like more information, visit the legislature's website, legislature.ky.gov, or email me at, Bobby.McCool@lrc.ky.gov.