Today I Rise: A celebration of the champions of September 11th

Today I rise to tell you about everyday people – who became a part of American history.

Today I rise to tell you about excellent people – who gave their lives to save others. 

Today I rise to tell you about extraordinary people – who found themselves transformed into champions in a single day.

Today I rise to celebrate the champions of September 11th 2001.

It was a bright, clear, day…… the kind of day that the friendly skies were made for.  It was an Indian summer day, not too cold, not too hot……it was just right.    

However, as we all know the beauty of that day was marred:

  • Marred by men with deadly intent
  • Marred by planes crashing into buildings
  • Marred by death …. With the lives of Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers and Children….brutally and cruelly cut off way too soon.         

Today I rise to tell you about:

Army Colonel Bud Boone.  The 53 years old was on duty on September 11th, 2011 not on a field of battle but at office in the Pentagon.  He and hundreds were killed    when the high jacked American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into his office. 

A native of Milan, Indiana, Bud Boone graduated from Butler University, where he met the love of his life his wife, Linda.

Bud and Linda build a life of service together, she as a   second-grade teacher.  He, wearing the uniform of our nation.

However, Bud and Linda’s greatest service were as parents to their three children, Chris, 23, Andy, 21, and Jason, 18. 

In the ten years that have passed since September 11 Chris, Andy and Jason have taken up their father’s mantel and have become Dads themselves. 

Linda has continued shaping young second graders.  The kids she taught on September 11 are now in college, or have jobs or are in uniform protecting our national against another attach like the one that took her husband Bud.  

Today I rise to tell you about:

Regina Cervantes, “Reggie” as her friends call her was an EMT and one of the first responders at Ground Zero on September 11.  On the days that followed Reggie helped with triage and was one of the workers who helped dig out bodies in the mist of dirt, the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center.  

But now the woman who fought to save others is in a fight for her own life.  The minutes, hours and days of breathing dirty air took a toll.  Since September 11th Reggie has suffered from upper respiratory and sinus infections.  

Before 9/11 Reggie, 45 on that day was robust and active.  Now ten years after her heroic duty she has trouble walking and is in constant pain in her kidneys and lungs.  She can’t work and has had to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket for medication.

Amazingly, Reggie has no misgivings about her service.  She will tell you she was just doing her job.  And she would do it again regardless of the outcome.      

Today I rise to tell you about:

Asia Cottom, who was just 11 years old on September 11th.  An excellent student Asia was selected to take a trip to California to participate in a National Geographic Society ecology conference.

Asia and her six grade teacher Sarah Clark were on American Airlines Flight 77 the high jacked aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon.  The same aircraft that killed Colonel Bud Boone.

On the night of the tragedy Asia’s mother told friends “my baby got her wings today”.   And she then added, ‘We have to live right so we can get our wings when it is our time.”  

Ten years later Asia’s mother and father continue to live right.  They launched a scholarship fund in Asia’s name to help students to achieve their educational wings.    

Today I rise to urge you to honor the memories of

  • Bud Boone
  • Regina “Reggie” Cervantes
  • Sarah Clark

 And young Asia Cottom

Along with the memories of the more than 3,000 people who died that day by moving beyond the dysfunctional politics that has recently afflicted our land.

Today I rise to urge you to follow the teaching of God and forgive those who attacked us that day… while never forgetting the pain and sacrifice of that day.

And finally today I rise to urge you to now rise with me and with your applause, clap loud, clap hard and clap strong to honor these champions and many more for their contributions to our freedoms.  

For today we rise

For today we rise

For today we rise

Source: The Washington Post, AP and


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