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Cantwell, Dicks and Inslee tout bipartisanship

Nearly 200 people attended a somber memorial at the Subase Bangor Chapel Tuesday, Sept. 18, to pay respects to the military and civilian victims of last week's terrorist attacks. Among them were Sen. Maria Cantwell and Reps. Norm Dicks, D-6th District, and Jay Inslee, D-1st District. All three were at work on Captiol Hill when the attacks began in New York and Washington D.C. Subase Chaplain Cmdr. George Ridgeway, whose last posting was in the United Arab Emirates, delivered the homily.My most recent encounter with terrorism was on the USS Cole, I was flown in to minister there. So, I've had a long time to think about it, said Ridgeway. Have you asked the 'why' question this week? I have.Before the ceremony, Cantwell and Inslee talked about their feelings in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Their offices are relatively near to the Pentagon. I had just finished a breakfast meeting with business leaders across the street from the Capitol when I found out about the first plane that had hit, Cantwell said. A few minutes later the second had hit and I thought possibly somebody had a heart attack in a small plane, but then we heard on a local radio station that they think a bomb has exploded at the Pentagon. We just stopped immediately and called the office and said to get everybody out of the building.Inslee and his staff could see the wreckage from their offices. We saw the smoke over the Pentagon and made the same decision to evacuate and moved over to an apartment about four blocks from the Captiol. Essentially the only way we could help was to try and get information on casualties to family members, Inslee said. He added that the hijacked flight that ultimately crashed in rural Pennsylvania likely was intended to hit the Captiol area. It's a real strange feeling because the heroes on that Pennsylvania flight may have kept that plane out of the dome or the White House. That heroism had an impact on Washington D.C., Inslee said.Politicians from both parties have an urgent sense of unity in the wake of the tragedy, according to Cantwell. We are so supportive as a group. People are so united behind our president in giving him the support in what needs to be done. And the resolution that we passed, giving him the authority that he needs as well as the financial support is there. People worked very diligently to make that happen in very quick fashion, Cantwell said. After the memorial, Dicks praised stricter security regulations imposed by the Coast Guard around Subase Bangor and along the Hood Canal earlier this summer. There's been a higher concern over the last three or four months about a terrorist attack in this country. And I think this was part of the heightened security and I support what they did, Dicks said. He added that the strategic value of Subase Bangor cannot be overlooked. We sit here at the Trident submarine base and we have to recognize that force protection starts right here. This is the most important base on the West Coast of the United States and these weapons systems here have to be defended and protected, Dicks said. Dicks, Cantwell and Inslee later visited other Kitsap County Navy installations for tours and briefings by commanding officers and security personnel.

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