This story originally misstated the hometown of Connie Stephens. She is from Lee's Summit. The web version has been corrected to accurately represent this fact.
After Sept. 11, Vincent Rotundo pictured a license plate that would unite Americans in their hatred of terrorism and remembrance of the victims.
Officials in his home state of Virginia thought he was onto something, and in July 2002 Virginia unveiled the first “fight terrorism” license plate.
On Thursday, there will be a Sept. 11 memorial service at the state Capitol. Rotundo plans to be there, alongside Gov. Bob Holden, when Missouri publicly announces the release of its own “fight terrorism” plate.
Missouri and Texas are the first states to follow in Virginia’s footsteps. Seventeen other state legislatures are considering adoption of the plate, said Kim Green, an aide to Missouri Senate Minority Leader Harold Caskey, who sponsored legislation for the plate.
Connie Stephens of Lee's Summit, whose brother-in-law was the pilot of the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon, brought the idea to Caskey.
“This plate is for those of us who are left, so that we don’t have to worry about giving the FBI our loved ones’ DNA,” Stephens said.
“The idea of a license plate is special,” she said, “because it’s an everyday reminder of what could happen if we’re not vigilant.”
The plate is a way for people not just to remember, but to help, Green said. The Missouri Office of Homeland Security will receive proceeds from the sale of the plates.
Purchasers of the plate will pay the standard $15 personalized plate fee along with a minimum contribution for $25 to Missouri homeland security in addition to regular registration fees, said Matt Connor, administrative analyst for the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Start-up costs to the state will be reduced if the Department of Revenue receives at least 100 applications before production begins. More than 25,000 plates have been sold in Virginia, Rotundo said, and Green is confident that Missouri will sell at least half that number.
Missouri already offers about 150 options of personalized plates to state residents.
For more information on the “fight terrorism” plates, contact the Department of Revenue at (573) 751-4509 or the Missouri Office of Homeland Security at (573) 522-3007.