AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Like many, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, started off as a normal day for then U.S. District 13 Representative Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon. Except his day started at the Pentagon.
“After taking my kids to school, I had a breakfast that morning with the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon,” said Thornberry. “So we were there when his military aid brought him a note that said that a plane had hit a building in New York.”
Thornberry said at the time they just thought a small plane had gone off course. Soon found out the gravity of the situation.
“So we left to get out of the Secretary’s way, and I went back over to the Capitol,” said Thornberry. “I remember police officers running down the hallway, saying, ‘Get out, get out, there’s another one coming for us,’ and so I evacuated.”
The Pentagon would later be hit by American Airlines Flight 77. 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in that attack, along with all 64 onboard flight 77.
“I was shocked like everybody else because it had been a very long time since America had been attacked,” said Thornberry. “Obviously, by the end of the day, we pretty well knew who did it.”
The country was at war, and Thornberry said it became a different situation for the federal government.
“The first job of the federal government’s to defend the country, and I think everybody knew at that point that 9/11 was not a one-time event, that there were folks who were going to come after us again and again,” said Thornberry. “For my job, especially on the Armed Services Committee, and so forth, it was really a much higher priority for the country and for the government, to protect us to defend us and to stop those people who were trying to repeat 911.”
Thornberry said his message for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is this:
“There are lots of families who were without loved ones temporarily or maybe permanently because they help defend the country,” Thornberry said. “So overwhelmingly, it’s gratitude for the men and women of the military, intelligence communities, and law enforcement who have stepped up to the plate to defend us these 20 years.”
Thornberry added the attacks changed his time in Congress, saying he is not sure he would have served as long without the war on terror being such an important priority.