- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Promise fulfilled

The mother of United Airlines Capt. Jason M. Dahl, whose heroism aboard Flight 93 on the morning of Sept. 11 saved the lives of countless Americans in Washington, and quite possibly many members of Congress who work in the Capitol, says she accepted her son's tremendous love of flying, but could never quell her concern for his safety.

"Jason's mother recently told me that Jason would reassure her by saying if he were ever to experience an airborne disaster, he would be sure to go down over trees or an open field, and not a populated area," reveals Rep. Mike Honda, California Democrat. "Over the woods of western Pennsylvania on the morning of September 11, Captain Jason M. Dahl kept his word."

A nation prepares

At least 100 mayors and dozens of police chiefs, fire chiefs and other emergency responders from across the nation have arrived in Washington for an Emergency, Safety and Security summit with top Bush administration officials.

Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Jane Garvey are among those who will discuss federal-local coordination in the war on terrorism.

The agenda for today and tomorrow includes local emergency management preparedness; transportation security, including aviation, rail, port and ground; communications; and public health issues.

On hand are New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, and Douglas Palmer, mayor of Trenton, N.J., where several anthrax-laden letters originated.

Open house

Feathers remain ruffled at the Capitol, where congressmen were widely criticized sharply last week for closing the House, while the Senate remained in session (when all was said and done, just as many congressmen remained in town as senators).

That said, Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols, who has one of the most pressing jobs in the terror-stricken capital, announced that the Senate would reconvene at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, and the House would resume work "at 6 p.m."

Technically, Lt. Nichols was correct the House had its first vote scheduled for 6 o'clock yesterday, as is customary at the start of each legislative week. But House members, still smarting from last week's debacle, want it made clear that the House actually opened for business at 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

Firemen heroes

Across the Potomac River from Washington, along the cobblestone streets of historic Alexandria, one finds the Friendship Firehouse Company, one of the nation's first volunteer firefighting organizations established in 1774.

It's said that George Washington, who kept a town house in Alexandria, once came upon Friendship firemen struggling with buckets of water and stepped down from his horse to help douse the flames. Soon thereafter, Washington became an honorary member of the company.

The 18th century firemen and their horse-drawn pumpers are distant memories, but their firehouse is filled with exhibitions, artifacts and historic equipment that tell the story of this nation's early firemen.

Today, the young children visiting the firehouse aren't so interested in the wooden buckets and shiny pumpers of days gone by. Instead, says tour guide Nancye Postman, the children without fail look around for the Friendship firemen, asking if they've gone to the Pentagon or to New York to help with recovery efforts.

"It's amazing to me how these kids have all processed this [terrorist] event," Ms. Postman tells us.

One tough month

Almost every day on Capitol Hill, by unanimous consent, leave of absence is granted to one or more congressmen who, for whatever reason, feel they must be excused from conducting the business of the nation.

Some lawmakers have appointments to keep; others, speeches to give; some catch the flu, while many experience airline flight delays. But the most legitimate excuse for a sudden leave of absence thus far this congressional session has to go to Rep. Robert Aderholt, Alabama Republican, who as was announced on the House floor high-tailed it out of Washington "on account of his house catching on fire."

"Everything is fine," a spokesman for Mr. Aderholt told us yesterday. "There was some structural damage, but luckily the congressman and his family were not home at the time, and nobody was injured."

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