Governor Bob Holden asked about 120 Lindenwood University students and guests last week at Old Peace Chapel to give back to their communities.
The governor's remarks, part of Lindenwood's Symposium in American Government series at the Historic Daniel Boone Home, focused mostly on Missouri's response to terrorist attacks on the United States and the need to become involved to keep community spirit alive.
Following is the text of Governor Holden's speech:
When you assume office as a new governor, even if you have been a public servant for a number of years such as I have been with two terms as State Treasurer and three terms in the House of Representatives, nothing can fully prepare you for the enormous range of responsibilities of the job.
There is no school you can attend to learn to be governor. And the learning curve is quite rapid as you prepare in a matter of weeks to discover all you can about each of the state departments that are under your authority, all the economic factors and past fiscal history that must be considered in drafting a state budget, and a host of other duties as well as putting together a staff, cabinet, and policy agenda—all while moving your family into the Mansion and becoming accustomed to your new best friends and constant presence—the governor’s security detail.
However, the emergency situations that you can’t possibly see coming are probably the most challenging.
And right now, we are going through one of those challenging times as a state and as a nation, following the tragic events of September 11.
Experiencing these terrorist attacks…watching them strike at the heart of our democracy and culture in Washington, D.C. and New York City---has altered our lives forever.
Few American generations in our history have ever had to live through such tragic times, and we are now focused on doing everything in our power to ensure that it can never happen again.
However, Missourians can be proud of how our state responded decisively and effectively following the attacks to protect our state.
Certainly, our previous successful responses to flooding in Missouri in 1993, 1994, and 1995 and preparedness for a major quake at the New Madrid Fault gave us the tools and vision necessary to handle emergency situations.
And in the wake of these terrorist attacks, having the plans in place to pull state resources together immediately is paramount. I was very pleased with how quickly emergency plans were put into place through the coordination of our state and local officials to protect Missourians from a similar terrorist attack. We met terror with resolve. We took immediate action. And we prevented panic. Within two hours of the time the first hijacked commercial aircraft flew into a tower of the World Trade Center, our state emergency operation was up and running.
Our State Emergency Management Agency, or SEMA as it is known, immediately called the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an update on any possible threats or military activity in Missouri and found there was none. I was given an immediate briefing on the situation, and I began to authorize the steps that we have in place for such emergencies. All SEMA staff who were out of the office on business were brought in and the State Emergency Operations Center began operating 24 hours a day.
Every Missouri agency worked together out of this center to ensure our state response was quick and appropriate. State agency officials were assembled there and briefed on the situation. All Capitol police in Jefferson City were called to work. All highway patrol officers, water patrol officers, and liquor control officers were put on alert. All state office buildings were put on immediate heightened alert. That meant additional security, auxiliary entrances closed, restricted deliveries, all trash containers moved away from the buildings, and an inspection of all mail coming into state mail rooms. Security was increased at the Callaway Nuclear Plant and Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska next to our northern border.
The Department of Fire Safety began coordinating our Fire Mutual Aid System, and local fire departments went on standby so they would be ready to assist. The National Guard elevated their security clearance for all facilities, activated a platoon of Military Police to secure the Ike Skelton Training Site, and tested their alert notification system and emergency communications system. Our Department of Health alerted all districts to provide public health assistance when necessary and helped to activate 80 National Medical Assistance Teams made up of 7,000 medical volunteers.
Missouri Task Force 1, our state rescue and recovery team operating out of the Boone Fire Protection District, was activated and sent to New York City. The Red Cross set up two shelters—one at KCI in Kansas City and one near St. Louis to accommodate passengers stranded because of the national airline alert. And I addressed an emergency joint session of the Missouri General Assembly at 10:45 that morning to assure everyone that all emergency precautions were in place and that according to the best information available, no potential threats existed in Missouri. When I became aware that some gas stations were raising their gas prices, I asked our Attorney General Jay Nixon to take whatever actions were necessary to make certain Missourians were being treated fairly.
His office has tracked down 48 Missouri service stations that raised their prices above $2.49 a gallon immediately following the terrorist attacks. Yesterday he announced that these stations would pay a total fine of more than $60,000. On Monday, we sent 220 of our Missouri National Guard to Fort Leonard Wood where they are taking four days of intensive training before reporting to provide additional security at the eight commercial airports in our state. Posting National Guard troops at our airports is a necessary step to ensure public confidence in the safety of flying.
And our trained National Guard troops will be in place at state airports starting this Saturday. The training is being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, and these guard members will provide security for the length of time it takes to get a sufficient number of civilian personnel hired and trained as air marshals to provide the necessary security. Also, on Monday, the entire 1138th Military Police Company, located in West Plains and Springfield, was called up for active duty. This unit, which served on active duty during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, was activated under the presidential authorization for the partial mobilization of our armed forces reserves.
We also have one of only ten Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams in our state. Located at Fort Leonard Wood, this 22 member National Guard team trains specifically to fight terrorism. Its members are some of the best and most professional members of our country’s defense forces, and I have the authority to call them up to respond to any emergency that arises in our state. So as you can see, we have many resources at our disposal and a great deal has been done to deal with this current crisis. But I believe we must look beyond present threats to ensure Missouri’s future.
Although our state response plans became operational immediately and quite effectively, as events unfolded in the days following the terrorist attacks and as more information became available, it has become apparent that we as government officials need to be prepared for emergency situations that states have never faced before. No matter how good our response plan is, because of our state’s strategic position, Missouri must remain one step ahead of the other states and those who would seek to undermine democracy. We are centrally located to all other destinations in the United States.
We are a major American transportation hub, which includes a large number of strategic river bridges. And we have two potentially significant military targets in our front yard. In this new world climate of threat, we are facing risks every day that will require new responses. Therefore, on September 26, I announced that Missouri would be the first state to take a new step to enhance the already excellent response plans we have in place. I appointed a new cabinet position so that we would have someone in place with the background to help us prepare for these new dangers to our state.
I appointed Colonel Tim Daniel as our new Missouri Special Advisor for Homeland Security. Colonel Daniel brings a wealth of experience to this new post—28 years of military experience, including two years as the long range strategic planner for the Pentagon, and six years in command at the company, battalion, and brigade levels. It will be Colonel Daniel’s responsibility to do a thorough review of our emergency response plans that are already in place throughout Missouri to ensure that we have left no stone unturned in keeping Missourians protected. If there are areas such as better integration of local and state resources, more effective communication strategies, or new approaches to the new threats our state is facing that we need to implement, Colonel Daniel will make those recommendations.
He reports directly to me on his assessments, and if he find the need for any refinements in our current system, we will take action immediately. I am committed to going the extra mile to make certain that every action that can be taken is in readiness in case of another terrorist attack or other state emergency. If and when another crisis hits, Missourians can have every confidence that all resources are in place to protect their lives and property.