Jerry Moran went to New York’s Ground Zero as part of a congressional delegation not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Then a member of the U.S. House, the Kansan recalls a score of images from that visit. One, however, haunts him.
On a sheet of notebook paper, left amid the makeshift memorials in lower Manhattan, a 12-year-old named Amanda wrote about how much she missed her father, a victim of the terrorists.
Even now, as a U.S. senator, that message informs Moran’s way of legislating.
“Public service now included the goals of making certain that there were no more Amandas, those who would lose their fathers at the hands of those who wanted to kill Americans and destroy our way of life,” he said.
Moran made the remark Tuesday in speaking as part of the Alf Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University.
His speech coincided with the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the Republican senator told the Forum Hall audience that the event not only altered his view of the world, as it did many Americans, but also shaped his career.
A third-term representative then, Moran said he had been days away from announcing his intention to serve Kansans in another way, in his home state and apart from Washington.
The attacks changed his mind.
“I decided I no longer could pursue election to any other office,” the lawmaker said. “This day, 17 years ago, changed me, the way I viewed public service and advocated for Kansans and for our nation. It broadened my perspective and deepened my resolve.”
The speaker said he became aware of the terrorist attacks during a morning workout with fellow congressman, and now fellow senator, Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat. Schumer had a daughter working near the World Trade Center.
“We were just two dads,” Moran said of that day. “We were worried about our children and concerned for our nation.”
Moran, now in his second term in the Senate, serves on committees including Appropriations, Commerce, Science and Transportation, Veterans’ Affairs and Environment and Public Works.
The Landon Lecture Series dates to 1966, bearing the name of Alfred M. Landon, an esteemed governor of Kansas during the 1930s and the Republican nominee for president in 1936.
Speakers in the Landon Series have included foreign heads of state, media and business executives, military leaders and U.S. presidents.
The senator paid homage Tuesday to the series namesake, who died in 1987, and to his daughter, Nancy Kassebaum, a Kansas U.S. senator from 1978 to 1997. Moran said he worked on her 1978 campaign.
“I recognize as I travel Kansas that the glory days in the U.S. Senate, from the Kansas perspective, is that people long for the days of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum representing them,” he said.