This year’s 9/11 anniversary in Kitsap County was perhaps more poignant than in recent years, as a new monument commemorating the attacks drew thousands to Evergreen Rotary Park in Bremerton.
Dignitaries Wednesday included Fred Lewis, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, as well as local politicians including Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, whose city hosts the memorial.
As part of the dedication of Kitsap’s 9/11 memorial, Lent told the crowd they’d invited three special guests. She said they heard back from two.
George W. Bush, president when the attacks occurred, was asked to come. He declined, in a letter through a spokesperson.
Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani, mayor of New York City the day two planes crashed into the World Trade towers, wrote a letter back thanking Bremerton and Kitsap County for creating a memorial (which you can read on our web site.)
The mayor’s office sent Gov. Jay Inslee an invite through the governor’s web site and by mail, but they did not hear back, she told me before the event.
Inslee spokesman David Postman said that the office wasn’t able to attend 9/11 events “due to scheduling issues.” He said they did reply, to Corrine Beach, a member of the Kitsap 9/11 memorial committee. He sent me a copy of their letter as well.
Inslee issued a state proclamation declaring Sept. 11 “a day of service and remembrance” in Washington, and for “the people of Washington to honor the lives and memories of those lost through participation in community service and remembrance ceremonies on this day and throughout the the year.”
Inslee did also ask “that Washington State and United States flags at all state agency facilities be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, for national Patriot Day, the annual memorial to the victims of the 2001 tragedy.”
Other governors, including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and California Gov. Jerry Brown, like Inslee, issued proclamations.
Leading politicians closer to Ground Zero participated in events this year. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rode a motorcycle with Billy Joel to the site Wednesday.
Some out west did too. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter recited names of 66 fallen soldiers at a courthouse memorial on Wednesday, though it was not specifically tied to 9/11. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval attended a 9/11 event in Fallon, one of Nevada’s strongest military towns.
In previous years, former Gov. Christine Gregoire, from what I can find, attended at least three 9/11 events: On Sept. 11, 2005, she attended the Washington State Fire Academy for a ceremony there. In 2011, she attended a commemoration ceremony in Auburn. In 2008, she attended an event at the firefighter’s memorial in Tacoma.
I made this inquiry to our governor’s office not as a criticism, but a curiosity. For instance, at 12 years after the tragedy, is it just not a priority for a governor of a state on the opposite side of the country to go to such events? What do you think?