September 11 Digital Archive






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TomPaine Story: Story

Labor Paper
September 11, 2001

Brothers and Sisters, it is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this article tonight. The date at the top of this page (September 11, 2001) will undoubtedly be burned into the memories of the American people, much in the same way December 7th 1941 was, following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I am sitting in a hotel room in San Francisco that was evacuated earlier today under a bomb threat. The threat proved to be false and unrelated to todays events, but it certainly scarred a lot of people who were already in a state of shock. As I look out my window at sunset, I can see two American flags at half mast by order of Governor Gray Davis, who welcomed us to California yesterday morning.

President Denny Shelton, Brothers Steve Munton, Don Funk and I are out here attending the 36th IBEW International Convention. This Convention, which draws our Brotherhood together from the United States and Canada, has most certainly been disrupted. Convention delegates this morning watched in horror as all the giant screens at the Moscone Center carried the unfolding news reports. Numbers of delegates scrambled for their cell phones to contact friends and families as they learned for the first time what was going on in New York and Washington D.C.. President Ed Hill opened the Convention calling for a moment of silent prayer for the victims and their families. President Hill informed the delegates that he had contacted the American Red Cross to invite them to set up for donations at the Convention Center. Following a moving invocation by Reverend Cecil Williams, President Hill proceeded with Convention business for a brief time. When the report of the local bomb threat was received, President Hill adjourned the morning session, and released all delegates to seek out and assist their spouses, many of which were being evacuated from the Renaissance Hotel at that moment.

I believe it is important to note here, the Convention reconvened this afternoon and conducted business. This is significant, not because the IBEW delegates went back to the work before them. It is significant, because American and Canadian electrical workers, who were briefly stopped in their tracks, once again moved forward together. This is exactly what each and every person who loves freedom must do in defiance of those who would attempt to terrorize us into hysteria.

President Franklin D. Roosevelts words still ring true today when he said, The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself. We must all realize that to live if fear is a choice. Some nameless, faceless, cowards, want to make that choice for us. They want to hold us hostage with their spineless, gutless, slaughter of innocent men, women, and children. It is not their choice. We will not live in fear, because we choose not to. Instead, we will rise up with those who love and cherish freedom. Throughout our history brave men and women have proved time and time again that freedom, and the love of freedom, is just as important as life itself. Many, so many, have sacrificed their very lives for this freedom in the past. Those of us that draw a free breath today, owe these patriots who have gone before us, and yes, we owe it to the lives that were lost today, to not bend in the face of terror. We must instead resolve to hunt down the perpetrators of terror and serve them a swift full measure of justice. In times like these its easy to feel helpless and somewhat removed from the events of today. I urge everyone to consider giving blood immediately. You can get into this fight by rolling up your sleeve for your fellow countrymen. Most importantly, in complete and total defiance of terror, go back to your daily routine with a renewed appreciation for your freedoms and this country we are blessed to live in. Our world was changed forever today, but the things that make this country great have not changed one iota, and the price of freedom has never been free.


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