U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Blog

Was this page helpful?

United in Memory: The Effects of September 11 Still Reverberate Today

By Joe Wassel, Executive Director and CEO, First Responder Network Authority

September 11 irrevocably altered the lives of Americans. Today, on the anniversary, we solemnly reflect on that fateful day and its impact on our nation.

Twenty-two years ago, at 9:37 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon — a landmark moment for me. I was in the building as director of communications for the Secretary of Defense.

My job was to make sure the Secretary could communicate. I was with Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he went to the scene of the crash and started helping with the response. I will never forget the cries for help… the heat of the fireball… or the roar of the impact. The events of that day shaped who I am today, like so many others.

The tragedies of September 11 continue to be significant in our current times. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is a ripple effect of that day and the days that followed when first responders struggled to communicate amid the chaos. Congress created our agency to build a dependable network to keep first responders connected when it matters most.

As Executive Director and CEO, I work to ensure our team is ready to support the public safety community in new and evolving challenges.

As part of a new leadership series, the FirstNet Authority’s executive team recently visited two places foundational to our mission. We went to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We also visited the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City, where there is a moving tribute to the tragedies at the Twin Towers and the resilience of the American people.

These visits were a powerful reminder of the FirstNet Authority’s critical role in supporting public safety’s lifesaving work. Our enduring challenge is to make sure first responders can communicate and work together so public safety will never again have to encounter the communication failures experienced on that tragic day.

While the attacks forever changed our nation, they also set a new course for the way public safety communicates. As a result, FirstNet exists today as the nationwide public safety broadband network — to keep first responders sharing every day and in every emergency.

Today, our nation is united in our memories of September 11.

At the FirstNet Authority, we came together as a team to reflect on the day in a remembrance ceremony. We paid tribute to those who bravely answered the call for help at the expense of their own safety. We honored the thousands of Americans who lost their lives. We continue to hold in our hearts their families and loved ones. And we rededicated ourselves to serving public safety and their mission-critical communication needs.

Bureaus and Offices