On most days, I reach out to you to share updates about what my administration is doing to improve the lives of County residents. But today, September 11, is different.
Today is a day to remember. It’s a day to remember the heroism we witnessed on that fateful day 22 years ago- the extraordinary acts of courage by uniformed personnel, first responders, members of the military, and selfless bystanders who saved lives amidst the chaos & peril of the attacks- many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
Today is also a day to remember the thousands of wonderful people who were taken from us too soon on that day and the legacies they left behind. Today, we appreciate and reflect on what they did during their lifetimes- their contributions to their communities, their selfless deeds, and the lasting imprints they’ve left on our hearts.
Among the many good people we lost that day, there was one extraordinary woman who touched my life personally.
Hilda Taylor, my mentor teacher and cherished friend, was not just an ordinary educator. To all who had the honor to know her, she was an inspiration, a ray of hope, and a testament to the power of perseverance.
Born in Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by war, Ms. Hilda made the journey to the United States in pursuit of higher education. Once she arrived here, she developed a profound sense of love and appreciation for her adopted homeland. She channeled her patriotism into her career as an educator, teaching geography to children raised in poverty. As someone who had seen and lived through hardship, Ms. Hilda was fiercely passionate about opening up the world to children, particularly those who rarely got a chance to venture beyond their neighborhoods.
Years ago, back when I was teaching at Madeleine V. Leckie Elementary School, Ms. Hilda taught in the classroom next door to mine. I remember the energy she brought to her work, how she caringly engaged with her students and gave them the best learning experience she could possibly provide. And her students loved her for it.
Moreover, Ms. Hilda’s commitment went beyond the classroom. Always striving for innovative learning experiences, Ms. Hilda would frequently take her students on National Geographic trips to help broaden their world and expose them to new knowledge, experiences, and possibilities.
But Ms. Hilda’s remarkable career was tragically cut short on September 11th, 2001, when she and one of her brightest star students, Bernard Brown, boarded Flight 77 bound for Los Angeles. They were going to California's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, where they planned to explore, kayak, and work alongside marine biologists. However, they never made it there because, minutes after taking off, their plane struck the Pentagon.
Today, on this solemn anniversary, I hope you will join me in keeping her memory alive. Ms. Hilda cared so much for our children and worked diligently to make a better future for them. Let’s continue her mission by doing everything we can to help the children in our communities who might otherwise have limited opportunities. Even if you only help just one child- you can make an immeasurable and lasting difference, just like Ms. Hilda did in the lives of so many young people.
I urge you to take a moment today to remember not just Ms. Hilda, but all the souls we lost on that tragic day. Let us be inspired by their memories to work towards a brighter, more compassionate world.
For those who wish to learn more about Ms. Hilda Taylor and her exemplary life, please visit the Pentagon Memorial's tribute to her.