Retired police officer: “As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this – a world united can’t be divided.”

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Editor note: This editorial is a contribution by Bernie Hallums, the new co-host of Law Enforcement Today’s newscast on LET Unity.

Bernard “Bernie” Hallums served his community for over 32 years as a police officer in the Town of Manchester and spent several months volunteering his working weekends at the WTC site.

UNITED STATES– 20 years ago on September 11, 2001, most of the world stood still in sheer horror watching the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the hijacked plane that crashed in Shanksville Pennsylvania.

As was so eloquently stated in the country song: Have you forgotten?  Do you remember that national sadness followed by patriotism the likes I’d never seen and haven’t since? Did you light a candle and sit on your porch? Feel proud to be an American as Lee Greenwood sang?

That day, the experience for me involved locking down two schools as I was a School Resource Officer and a helpless feeling as I watched a city I loved, just two hours from me, being attacked; remembering that the Saturday before I was two blocks from the World Trade Center.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

Through the generosity of Treasures and Trinkets I was able to deliver 30,000 guardian angel pins to the Washington DC police.

I continued to do this on the weekends for the next six months, delivering to firehouses and police stations in New York City and to personnel working at the site.

We laughed, hugged and reminded these folks who were working 12-hour shifts seven days a week that the world was with them.

Fast forward to today, 20 years in just a few days, 3000 plus people died that day and thousands more first responders have died or suffered horrific mental or physical disabilities since. We also can never forget our military that just returned after a 20-year war, enduring many casualties including my cousin’s son Javion Sullivan.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

Many have had to fight to get the benefits, and many have fought for them such as famous comedian and actor Jon Stewart.

Thank you, Jon.

The 9/11 site memorial is in financial difficulty, partially as a result of being closed due to Covid, as well as a whole generation that wasn’t alive 20 years ago or were too young to remember one of the darkest days in our world’s history.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

On this, the twenty-year anniversary, I will think of all those I met.

Mike Singer and his wife, now retired from the 6th Precinct, and remember their love for all first responders lost, especially James Leahy.

This year, as I do every year, I listen for James’ name to be called and hope his family is well.

I will spend time thinking of Steven Pilver, a man from my community, who was in the second tower and was able to exit before it collapsed. I will always thank him for sharing his story at an event we had in 2002.

And to my friend Michele Mosca, who lost her brother John Sherry who was one of the many who left that morning to go to work and provide for his beautiful family and never returned to them. I thank you for putting a face on all the innocent victims, and the void that can never be filled by their loss.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

There are so many other people and memories, memories fresh still after twenty years.

On Thanksgiving Day 2001, I was blessed to help by driving chaplains from all over the country around the World Trade Center site to provide comfort to all who were there and share love, prayer, and support.

It was an honor and a reminder of all that we have to be thankful for amidst such loss and devastation. This was made possible thanks to the work of Roland Kandle from Port Authority PD, who helped bring comfort to everyone with his massive coordination efforts.

He died of a massive heart attack during all this giving.

He devoted his life to help so many.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

I remember visiting and meeting with members of Ladder 1 Firehouse in Lower Manhattan and learning that true heroes don’t discuss what they did they just do it

Months later I watched as they were the firehouse featured in the French filmmaker documentary “9/11” that told of the events of that day from the point of view of the firefighters.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

Twenty years ago, what I and my fellow officers did wasn’t because we wore a badge or to be heroes, it was from our hearts. Our badge allowed us to be there, and with the help of our communities, we tried to make things better for those who were at ground zero.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

The kids at my middle school drew pictures that were posted on the walls at the 6th Precinct, a way to show love, care, and support. Something that may have seemed small but made a huge impact.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

Many things never forgotten– the truckloads of twisted rubble, the air full of dust, the fliers of hope, the portable hospitals full of hopeful doctors and nurses receiving no patients, the rescue turning into recovery.

The outer perimeter of the site becoming a memorial with worldwide heads of state drawn to the site to recognize their lost residents as so many countries suffered the loss of citizens.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

There are no real reunions between me and the many people I met after 9/11.  There was no internet like today, no social media as an easy way to connect and stay connected with strangers I met during a tragedy.

Of course, I have some photo albums of pictures and reflections of those brave souls whose faces I remember if not their names. What I know is that everyone I met, everyone affected is equally important.

Retired police officer: "As we remember 9/11, America needs to know this - a world united can't be divided."

This year for the first time, I plan to be in New York City for September 11th, being one of those faces in the crowd hoping for more healing.

To those who lost family and friends, you and they are never forgotten and forever in my heart.

To the 911 Museum, I will support this facility and its precious preservation of the history of that day, and the beautiful way they are honoring those departed.  

May we never forget what happened on September 11, 2021 and ever have to endure anything like that again. A world united can’t be divided.

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LET Unity

Say his name: U.S. Marine Taylor Hoover murdered by terrorists in Kabul. He was only 11 on 9/11/2001.

September 2, 2021

SANDY, UT- Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover Jr. was among the 13 U.S. service members killed by terrorist attacks outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26th.

According to reports, the 31-year-old from Utah was in the Marines for 11 years. Hoover graduated in 2008 from Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Utah.

In remembering his late son, Darin Hoover said:

“He was one of the best people you could ever know and I’m proud of him for doing an incredibly tough job with honor.”

Members of the neighborhood place several American flags outside of the Hoover family home in honor of their son. The father posted a picture of his son on Facebook with the caption reading:

“Soooooo glad I got to see him before he let. I love you, son!!! You’re my hero!! Please check in on us once in a while. I’ll try to make you proud!”

His father said that Hoover loved his country and loved people, adding that he was a born leader. Darin said:

“He led his men and they followed him, but I know in my heart of hearts he was out front. They (his fellow Marines) would follow him through the gates of hell if that’s what it took.”

Hoover joined the Marines as a 19-year-old young man, based out of Camp Pendleton in California. He was the oldest of three children, with two younger sisters.

His dad said he did not want his son’s life tied up in the politics of the evacuation of Afghanistan. Instead, he said he wants everyone to “know what a great young man he was.”

The 9/11 terrorist attack made an impact so large on Hoover that it would determine the course of the rest of his life. Darin added:

“He decided, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ He was the best kid in the world. Couldn’t ask for any better.”

His father, a former officer with the West Valley City Police Department and current deputy in the Daggett County Sheriff’s Office, taught public service through action. He said:

“He took it more than two or three steps above me.”

Darin added:

“He did what he loved, was leading his men and what with them to the end. He loved the United States and proved it by his service. We are so heartbroken and feel for the families of his fallen brothers as well. Our condolences go out to them in this trying time.”

Members of his family have also posted messages about the Marine. Jeremy Soto, his uncle posted on Facebook:

“My handsome nephew, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover. Taylor spend his entire adult life as a Marine, serving. Doing the hard things that most of us can’t do. He is a hero. We are wounded. We are bruised. We are angry. We are crushed … but we remain faithful.”

Brittany Jones, Hoover’s aunt, also wrote on Facebook:

“The world has lost a true light. Our hearts are broken, Shock, disbelief, horror, sadness, sorry anger and grief … thank you sweet boy for the ultimate sacrifice. For giving your life for us all.”

Elected officials from Utah shared their condolences. Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) tweeted:

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, who served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan. We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death.”

Cox ordered flags to be lowered to honor Taylor Hoover. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) tweeted:

“We’ll be forever grateful for his sacrifice & legacy. He spent his last moments serving our state & nation, & we’ll never forget his unwavering devotion.”

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