The Coastal Star

Local Voices: 9/11 anniversary a time for reflection, a reminder of need for Real ID

September is a transitional month for Americans. We celebrate Labor Day, enjoy the start of autumn, and football season begins.  In Florida, September is also viewed with caution as it’s the peak month of hurricane season. 
    For all of us, the events that occurred on 9/11 10 years ago gave September an entirely different meaning. 
    Most people remember exactly where they were the moment we learned that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. America had been attacked by terrorists, who had boarded and hijacked planes and turned them into weapons of mass destruction.  
    The terrorists were able to operate openly and escape detection in part because they secured legal state driver licenses and ID cards. A driver’s license not only grants driving privileges, it also serves as an identification to access a variety of banking, retail, transportation and community services and benefits.  It presumes legitimacy of the holder.
    Thirteen of the 19 9/11  terrorists secured Florida driver licenses and IDs. Eight of these terrorists had lived in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach and three in Hollywood. 
    Before 9/11,  many people viewed the issuing of driver licenses or state ID cards as a clerical task — if they thought about it at all.  Some saw this as a simple “administrative” function.
    Now we know better.  Post-9/11, driver licenses and ID card issuing has become part of our national security system.  Constitutional tax collectors are now part of that “security system” because the Florida Legislature transferred these services to us in 2010.
    The federal Real ID Act requires that every person prove his or her identity to receive a state driver license or ID card. That requires everyone to visit a service center with specific and original documents. The Department of Homeland Security requires proof of birth, Social Security and residence. 
    You have until 2014 (50 or younger) or 2017 (50 or older) to comply. After 2017, possession of a Real ID will be required to board a commercial flight or enter a federal building.
    The Real ID security process has resulted in a dramatic increase in people coming to our offices. We have longer lines and wait times. The increase is temporary, though, because a person only has to become Real ID compliant once. We expect the crowds to diminish after 2017, because users will be able to renew online.
    Our staff works hard to process residents’ Real ID driver license or ID card as quickly as possible. Readers can help by taking the time to prepare and by bringing the correct documents. Our website, at www.taxcollectorpbc.com, has a listing of the documents. 
    Terrorists murdered 2,977 innocents on 9/11. The death toll didn’t stop there. America was soon at war. More than 6,000 members of our armed services have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. My prayers are with the surviving families and friends. As Americans we feel their loss and hope to see the safe return of our troops serving abroad in the very near future. 
— Anne M. Gannon, 
Palm Beach County tax collector

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