President Bush, soon after the events, started to mobilize troops for the invasion of Iraq. The State of Idaho had the largest per capita call up of troops of any state in the United States. As you all know, this happened quickly leaving many families without fathers and mothers and the loss of primary bread winners in many of our rural communities. Governor Kempthone and Commanding General Kane came to the Idaho Stampede and asked if our Foundation could help these families until the wheels of government could kick in with the benefits these families deserved. We were able to go to our good friends at US Bank and put a program together where we were able to raise $100,000 for these needy families. We called it Operation Idaho Cares. Two years later we were called to help again when these same troops came home with life-changing injuries. Once again we were able to raise funds to help rebuild homes to accommodate their injuries. Once again, US Bank and the Associated General Contractors were great partners to help us with this program. Recently, we started another program to provide sports wheelchairs for veterans with lower body injuries. The fine folks at Norco Medical partnered with us on this initiative . Our Foundation was awarded the highest military honor that can be given to civilians by our state militia, for our help to our military.
Out of the tragedies of 9-11, I have had the opportunity to experience the generosity and true caring of the citizens of the great state of Idaho. The negatives and positives of this event will be with me for the rest of my life.
I was in the midst of a life-changing journey when those horrible events transpired in New York City. I was making a move across the country, from Ohio to Portland, Oregon to start a new life in the west. I was temporarily living in an Extended Stay outside of the city where the view of Mount Hood was breathtaking when it was clear. I had just spent three or so straight days in a car driving from Ohio to Portland with my brother. My wonderful dreams of yellow center lines were shattered by a very early phone call. I remember hearing, “Turn on the TV, It’s your father in-law, something terrible has happened.” I fumbled for the remote flipped the switch and saw a tower billowing with smoke. I literally sat there with my jaw open while my brother sat up in the neighboring twin bed; I gasped in horror as I saw the second play fly into the tower. Every channel had coverage! The memories of that day were so vivid. I can remember the smells of foods people were cooking and the weird feeling in the pit of my stomach of not knowing what was happening.
My brother was actually supposed to fly out that night after helping me cross the country. Needless to say he had to fly out a couple days later once civilians were allowed to fly again. We had to ship his pocket knife home in a box since he could not carry it on his plane. He said the airports were like ghost towns filled with uneasy tension. Military and police with guns patrolled the airports. I could only imagine what went through my brother’s head having to fly so soon after that day.
Having lost so many family and friends throughout my life, my heart goes out to all those who were affected by September 11. That day also is a very somber reminder of how lucky we are to live in a great country, how lucky were are for our freedom and especially how lucky I am to be where I am today.