U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran delivered a speech titled “Answering the call: Serving a global society post 9/11” as part of the Landon Lecture Series on Tuesday.
Moran discussed how the tragedy shaped his experience representing Kansas in Washington and how its anniversary serves as a reminder to refocus on what unifies Americans.
Moran started off the lecture with a tribute to Kansas State President Richard Myers, who served as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under former President George W. Bush.
“We can’t gather on this campus, focus on 9/11 and not recognize the contribution of now president, then General, Richard Myers,” Moran said. “He’s a distinguished leader of our military and with a career full of accomplishments. Now, post-9/11, General Myers’ leadership to our nation and the world, and now to his alma mater, is something we are all so very grateful for.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Moran said he started off what seemed to be a normal Tuesday by going to the gym with his colleague, Sen. Chuck Schumer. After hearing reports of the first crash, they turned on the TV in time to see the second.
They then concluded it was no accident, Moran said. As the Sept. 11 attacks took place before the mainstream Internet, Moran and Schumer had no idea what was going on or what could happen next.
“Chuck’s thoughts turned to his daughter, who worked in lower Manhattan, New York City, near the twin towers, and mine to our daughters, Kelsey and Alex, who were in school at our hometown, Hays,” Moran said. “Seventeen years later, and now in the senate, Chuck Schumer and I still remember that moment. A moment in which we were not a Republican from Kansas and a Democrat from New York; we were just two dads, in a moment where party lines and political posturing ceased. We were worried about our children and concerned for our nation.”
The events of 9/11 caused Moran to realize that he had a duty beyond preserving the Kansas way of life; he also had to work for the American way of life.
The senator then went on to discuss work he has done and ideas he has to assist this effort, starting with a critique of the recently imposed tariffs that targeted approximately $361 million of Kansas exports.
“The United States has engaged itself in a trade war that I’m not convinced anyone can win,” Moran said. “Agriculture is a way worthy cause. It’s noble and it’s especially rewarded when the food that farmers and ranchers produce get to people who really need it. Farmers must have access to global markets.”
The senator said he believes Kansas has enormous potential to help the hungry across the world, encouraging K-State students to pursue agriculture, engineering and aviation. He said he thinks that if Kansas can help feed the hungry in other nations, they will not look to sources such as terrorist organizations for help.
“In assisting those who need it, we reduce the likelihood of another terrorist attack on our nation,” Moran said. “It’s a double benefit—we help people in need to help ourselves.”
Moran said he is also passionate about making sure veterans receive the health care they need. He saw many of his friends go to Vietnam in high school.
“They just happened to be a year or two older than me,” Moran said. “That was the difference, a year or two. When you were born. I’ve felt called throughout my public service to make certain our nation’s heroes receive the care and benefits that they’ve earned, maybe because I’ve never served.”
Along with the late Sen. John McCain, Moran worked on pieces of legislation to assist veterans in this area, including the Choice Program and the Veteran Affairs Mission Act.
Moran concluded his speech by stating that he and Schumer share the same sentiment of unity today that they did 17 years ago and that this is mindset that will always hold the country together, saying that instead of fighting, Americans should get back to work.
“While we disagree with each other more often than not, we stood there together and saw each other as fathers, not foes,” Moran said. “We saw each other as fellow Americans, not political enemies. The country will be fine only if we stop asking ‘who can I fight?’ and instead ask ‘how can I help?’”