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Community stakeholders reflect on Sept. 11 anniversary

by VICTOR CORRAL MARTINEZ
Staff Writer | September 8, 2021 3:04 PM

BONNERS FERRY — This year, Sept. 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the events that would forever change United States history and would have lasting effects on the world, but most importantly on individual Americans who watched the horrors of what many regards as the most significant single event to see massive loss of life.

Many people can remember where they were when the event occurred and how it had a lasting impact on their lives. Likewise, many of the Bonners Ferry community stakeholders gave their experience and the lasting impact on them.

Ben Apo, VFW Post Commander, said he was getting ready for work and watching television showing the first plane crash and saw live footage of the second plane crash.

Dave Kramer, Boundary County Sheriff, was watching television as well, in disbelief: “At first it was unbelievable that it was a deliberate attack on America.”

Lisa Ailport, Bonners Ferry City Administrator, was in college watching the events unfold on television, then spoke to her friend from ROTC about what happened. “I was in utter shock and absolutely petrified that were under a full-scale attack by the then unknown source.”

Many Americans felt numb and shocked at the impossible happening on American soil. Many like Boundary County Chaplain Len Pine knew “the world would never be the same.”

Ailport said her initial thought was this was the next Pearl Harbor, and an inevitable war was possible.

“My thoughts turned to our military and those who I was close with, knowing that we would likely send them into battle,” Ailport said. “I was sullen to the idea that many of my friends would likely be sent overseas to fight.”

Many knew that justice was needed; Apo initially “wanted revenge, retaliation and payback.” So Apo felt compelled to try and reenlist.

The events after Sept. 11, 2001, would not only leave a lasting impression but impacted lives. Ailport knew the price many would have to pay, directly affected in 2006 after a close friend serving overseas died in a helicopter crash.

“I lost a very good friend, one that will never be forgotten. I have shared the story of her life with my two young girls to help keep her memory, but to also understand what freedom means to me and them,” Ailport said.

Kramer visited the infamous sites in New York City and the Pentagon, the grief he felt was unimaginable. Still, he was amazed at how the country came together to support the first responders who bravely worked to save lives.

The events are 20 years passed, and the next generation didn’t experience the tragedies that unfolded but mostly only know through a chapter in their history books. Pine would want Americans to show support and honoring the fallen through the memorials and remind people of their citizen duties of defending their nation from enemies.

Kramer stated that the strong support given to military and first responders in Boundary County is a way to “never forget” and be a patriot.

Ailport would ask the community to remember those lives lost and appreciate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

As tragic as the events were, Apo quickly points out the heroism by everyday people and first responders looking at the horrors, showing the strength of the human spirit.