On today’s front page we placed a special piece of art highlighting Patriot Day in America, marked on Sept. 11 each year to remember the horrific attacks of that day in 2001 and how our country came together. Most of us know this as 9/11.
We also have an excellent read in Hilary Dorsey’s feature about some of our community leaders’ experiences and memories of that time. Their stories are different, but the messages are the same - these events need to be remembered forever. The people we lost on that day and their families need to be remembered forever, and the world needs to remember how we as a country came together to be patriots.
I was a much younger publisher working in Big Sky Montana at the Lone Peak Lookout and the West Yellowstone News, also acting as its editor.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Big Sky was playing host to a large national Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)convention.
Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was also attending the convention, so when the first hijacked airplane hit the first World Trade Center building, Rumsfeld was hailed and got on an Air Force plane before any news media knew about the convention in the small unincorporated town of Big Sky.
Our newspaper was owned by the same company that owned the Bozeman Chronicle 45 miles down the road and we shared a lot of stories and photos with our bigger sister paper. I was instructed to get a photo of Rumsfeld and see about an interview. So, I headed up to the resort, but it was locked down, secured by local law enforcement officers by the time I arrived. I could not get any information about Rumsfeld, and later got called off the assignment when our newsroom in Bozeman found out he had left hours ago.
But I still waited until I could get some information from anyone at the convention so our newspapers could localize the events. I hung out at the main entrance to the resort’s hotel and when someone would come out to smoke, I would interview them. I got pictures of the scene at the resort’s outside with local sheriff deputies securing the area and had my story turned into the Chronicle by deadline. As I remember I got to speak with the FEMA directors from Ohio and Wyoming, they both smoked at the time. They both told me at the time, this was huge, and America would never be the same.
Now, it’s all of our jobs to remember the fallen and their families from that horrible day in American history. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years, I remember it like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget, and I hope you don’t either.