Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Lest We Forget

It seems like yesterday, but almost feels like an eternity has passed since this horrific day in our nation's history.  Every 9/11 for the last 11 years, our thoughts turn to my husband's friend from high school, Brady Howell, and his family. Brady was killed on September 11th, 2001 when terrorist flew a plane into the Pentagon where he worked. We drove up to Idaho to attend his funeral and to mourn his loss with his beautiful wife Liz and his family.

I'd like to share BYU-Idaho's tribute to Brady.

Brady Kay Howell

Ricks College alumnus Brady Howell '97 was posthumously presented the Superior Civilian Service Medal, the civilian equivalent of the purple heart, from the Chief of Naval Operations.

Brady was goal oriented and enthused about his internship with Naval Intelligence. It fulfilled a childhood dream. At age nine he had written a letter to the President of the United States offering his service: "My friend and I are detectives, and we will try to come any time you need us."

His promising future was caught in the path of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Initially listed as missing, positive identification came on September 17. Even in death, Brady has touched countless lives. Hundreds attended both the memorial service in Arlington, Virginia, and funeral services in his hometown of Sugar City, Idaho.

Brady, age 26, was the son of Kenneth and Jeanette Howell. He served a mission to the Canary Islands. He married "Liz" Anderson '97 in the Bountiful Temple while both were attending Ricks College. After graduating from Ricks College, Brady received his bachelor's in political science from Utah State University and his master's in public administration at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

At the Sugar City service, Governor Dirk Kempthorne praised Brady and his family for high values. Elder F. Melvin Hammond extended condolences from the First Presidency. Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, Tish Long, read the Navy's citation:

"...Mr. Brady Howell became the first PMI [Presidential Management Intern] assigned to Director of Naval Intelligence Staff where he first worked on the DNI's Executive Board, which sets strategy and policy for the entire Naval Intelligence community. Most recently, he began training as a watch officer for the CNO Intelligence Plot--a position normally reserved for only the most qualified and promising intelligence officers. As an IP watch officer, Mr. Howell provided daily briefings to the Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy, and other senior military and civilian decision makers. By his distinctive contributions and inspiring dedication to duty, Mr. Brady Howell reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

After the Arlington service, classmates and acquaintances gathered to eat and reminisce. Conversation centered around Brady. "As the evening progressed one of the classmates proposed a toast to him, and someone suggested a proper way to honor Brady should include recognition of things important to him," shares his father. "They were fully aware that Brady didn't drink. Although peculiar to them, they respected him for his commitment and integrity. Knowing what was acceptable to him personally, they pushed aside their beverages and drank to his honor and memory from goblets filled with ice water."

Liz was able to pass the Olympic Torch to President Bush before the start of the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics. She told CNN the following about her experience:

"This experience was beyond description. It was a culmination of so many things. Probably, if I had to sum it up into three feelings I would say pride for the -- for my husband and the ideals that he represented, and for the fallen heroes of September 11. Probably humility for being asked to carry the flame, and in such a remarkable place. And also just sheer excitement for the opportunity to do something like this.

The president is one of the most congenial men. He put his arm around me. He said, I am so sorry for your loss. Then he -- we were standing there, and he leaned over and said, I'm so cold. I told him a little bit about Brady, just shortly. And he said, I know; I know it -- how great he was.

Brady was all-American by every standard of the word. He made me proud. Brady was working as a Navy civilian in the Pentagon in the Naval Command Center. And he was a presidential management intern. He was working as an intelligence officer in the command center, and had just received his top secret clearance a couple of weeks prior. And that was one of his lifelong goals.

Mostly I am sustained by the prayers that have been offered in my behalf, and also the hope -- there's hope that there will be a better and brighter day, and that has been manifest through the aftermath of September 11 -- how countries have come together; how people here in our nation have come to one another's aid. And things are getting better. And it's this knowledge that is keeping me going.

I felt Brady's presence with me before I started the race. And I knew he was looking out for me, and I knew he was proud. He was proud because he was such outstanding man. He was very proud of what was going on today."

Another great story mentioning Brady can be found here.
Here is a more recent story about his widow.

America, we can not forget the important lessons that we learned from 9/11.  Each day is a gift from God.  What kind of legacy will we leave our children, our communities, and our nation?  I hope we can build a legacy like Brady Howell and the other great men and women who died on 9/11.

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