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Leadership Corner

September 11: Remember and reflect

Portrait of Chief Vicki Christiansen in uniform.
Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen

As we remember the victims of 9/11, I find myself reflecting on how that tragic day changed not only America but also my family and me. It was a horrible and confusing time. I know each of us remembers where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news. I remember the shock we felt as we watched those two planes hit the Twin Towers and saw the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field.

We revisited these tragedies in the days and weeks that followed as they played out in the news. I still feel profound sorrow for the 2,996 people killed in the attacks—for the injuries to more than 6,000—and for the later injuries and deaths of so many first responders.

September 11 is a day of mixed emotions for me, as I’m sure it is for you. As we share our sorrow, we can also feel pride in how we as Americans showed up that day. Our nation has a history of showing up in times of need, and 9/11 underscores our role in the world’s emergency response community. 

The Forest Service has long been part of that. Our interagency incident management teams played a critical role in responding to 9/11 at both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Our teams provided months of support and training for responders. After those tragic events, our own well-tested systems for emergency response were adopted by agencies around the world.     

A 2017 article by Kerry Greene, a professional on our Fire and Aviation Management staff, gives some good context on the Forest Service’s role in shaping our nation’s disaster preparedness framework. I encourage you to read the article for yourself.

The first documented Forest Service response…Read More

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