20 years later: Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) remember 9/11

Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 8:28 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) is preparing to leave Congress following his current term, and former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) left the Senate in 2011. Both men were serving Wisconsin here in D.C. on September 11th, 2001.

“I Remember we had an early morning meeting in the Capitol.” Kind said, “It was a beautiful Fall, piercing blue sky day.”

Like most Americans, the morning of September 11th 2001 is still painted vividly in Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind’s mind.

The meeting in the Capitol was on dairy policy. On television, images of a plane striking the World Trade Center in New York stopped everything.

Kind said, “Shortly after I returned to my office I heard the boom of the plane going into the Pentagon and I looked across the street or the river and saw the plumes of smoke coming up.”

As first responders worked to save lives in New York and at the Pentagon, shock on Capitol Hill turned into fleeing for safety.

“Security was running around Capitol Hill instructing everyone that they had to vacate Capitol Hill,” Kind recalls.

On the other side of the Capitol, Feingold remembers the chaos of that moment.

He said, “We had to evacuate our staff in the Capitol to my apartment and then they said get out of this building there’s a plane coming toward the Capitol.”

Today, a plaque hangs in the Capitol honoring the people who died on Flight 93. It notes how their decision to fight the hijackers, causing the plane to go down in an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, may have saved the U.S. Capitol from destruction.

With the Capitol still standing, both Kind and Feingold remember returning to work with a focus to protect a nation that just suffered an unimaginable attack.

Feingold said, “I feel very proud of the way that people came together in this historic and frightening moment.”

Kind said, “If there was one thing I came out of it that was a bit uplifting it was how quickly we came together as a nation.”

In the following weeks and months, lawmakers would approve military action to retaliate against the terrorists who claimed responsibility for the attacks, they’d also approve sweeping intelligence legislation called the Patriot Act.

Kind voted for the Patriot Act, and Feingold was the only Senator to oppose final passage.

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