The legacy of 9/11 on the State of Texas

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 6, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 7 at 3:25 PM

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Texans have been impacted by the ensuing changes in big ways and small, but everyone has been affected in some way.

Some of those changes are obvious; others are not.

"Whether we are actually safer or not is kind of something very difficult for us to quantify and say for sure, 'Yes,' or for sure, 'No,' but at least we feel a lot safer," said University of Texas at Dallas public affairs professor Robert Taylor.

Over the past decade, the federal government funneled more than $2 billion through state government alone in anti-terrorism funding to tighten security for buildings, mass transit and sporting events.

Local governments got money, too.

Dallas has received $53 million since 2002, some of which it spent on its hazardous materials and SWAT teams.

The city also formed the police fusion center, which gathers and analyzes intelligence.

"And so we got better at reducing crime; better at preventing crime, solving crime, that type of thing... so there's again a secondary ramification from the terrorism money," Taylor said.

The Department of Defense ramped up spending at Texas military installations supporting two wars.

And spending on Texas defense contractors went from less than $10 billion in 2001 to $52 billion by 2008. The level has now dropped to $20 billion, according to the government.

"So you've got that kind of stimulus from that money, to be quite frank. And again, we'd like to think that we're getting a payoff or return of our investment in terms of safety and security," Taylor said.

The number of dollars being spent is almost unimaginable, but there are some smaller numbers that should never be forgotten.

As of the end of August, the Pentagon says 444 Texans died in hostile action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Lt. Rob Welch of Wylie, 26, was one of them — killed in Afghanistan in a rocket attack.

"I would like to think that my son is to be remembered for what his sacrifice was, and that we don't make the same mistake that we did in Vietnam by just saying, 'OK we're finished, we're done,' we pull out, we go home, and then something bad happens to that country that we tried to save," said Bob Welch, the fallen soldier's father.

While the impact from 9/11 ten years later folds into the daily lives of some Texans, others will bear the pain and sacrifice forever.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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