PEORIA, Ill. – (25 News) – (WEEK) — One of Peoria’s most prominent citizens is remembering his 9//11 experience 20 years later.
Ray LaHood, then a U.S. Congressman at the time, was in Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001 and watched the events unfold from the front of the Capitol.
“Just as I walked into the Capitol, and the U. S. Capitol Police were yelling at people ‘Get out of the Capitol! Get out of the Capitol! We think a plane is going to hit the Capitol.’” LaHood said.
LaHood told news partner 25 News despite worries, no planes hit the Capitol. But LaHood did watch as smoke rose above the Pentagon.
“A huge, huge explosion,” LaHood said. “We could see the plume of smoke, and we heard what sounded like a terrible, terrible crash, which it was. And then the Capitol Hill Police told us that a plane had hit the Pentagon.”
Congress was in the dark much like the rest of America. With their phones jammed, LaHood said their only source of information was the U.S. Capitol Police.
Once he returned to his apartment, LaHood watched the rest of the day’s events unfold on television. He says the day itself was a whirlwind. But nonetheless, many tragic memories endure.
“I think what is seared into my memory more than anything is the fact that over 3,000 Americans were killed,” LaHood said.
LaHood served on the House Intelligence Committee in 2001. He remembers the dread that nobody saw the attacks coming.
Despite the horrific scenes, LaHood says 9/11 inspired many Americans to a greater sense of duty. He recounted a moment shared inside the Capitol the next day, as elected officials vowed to continue carrying out their congressional duties.”
“The entire group of senators and house members started singing ‘God Bless America’,” LaHood said. “And that was, I think that was a signal to all Americans that these people were not going to scare us off. They were not going to inhibit us from doing what we were supposed to do.”
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September 11, 2021 at 06:03AM