As I stop and reflect today upon the events that happened 10 years ago today on Sept. 11, 2001, I can't help but also reflect on events of the last two weeks. Each of us still vividly remembers our feelings of that day just 10 short years ago.
I remember being at home and watching the events unfold on my television screen. Like many others, I found it difficult to comprehend what I was seeing. We knew that America was under attack and wondered how many more attacks would be launched upon our shores.
The days that followed showed the true spirit of America, and witnessed a nation rise up in unison with a spirit of compassion and cooperation. The entire Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang a solemn rendition of “God Bless America.” We were a nation united, and determined not to let this attack destroy our way of life.
The spirit of unity lasted for a while, but we soon went back to the political differences that had divided us before. Partisan bickering returned to Washington and across the nation. We constantly hear what is wrong with America, while ignoring her successes. Despite our nation’s numerous challenges, we still have much to celebrate.
The last two weeks have given me numerous opportunities to reflect on what is right with America, both her past and our path for the future. I have travelled to Washington, D.C, spoken with numerous folks, and had the opportunity to attend the 9/11 Memorial Service at Patriots Point aboard the USS Yorktown.
My trip to Washington gave me numerous opportunities to see firsthand the greatness of our nation. I visited each of the memorials to our fallen from numerous American wars. There I was reminded of the selfless sacrifice of so many of our nation’s youth, in the hopes of preserving this wonderful nation. I spoke with diplomats and democracy activists from around the world that still see America as a beacon of freedom to the world.
I saw visitors from around the world that continue to be amazed by the bounty we enjoy as Americans. The hopes of many that hope to one day call themselves American. The light of freedom continues to burn brightly throughout our great nation, and will continue to do so as our country boldly faces its challenges. I saw a man that grew up under the oppressive grip of the Soviet Union, whose son now proudly calls himself a United States Marine.
I was able to visit and tour the Capitol. While home to much of our bickering, it is also a reminder that we are a country based on the rule of law, not the whims of a dictator. It is a place where any citizen can witness the legislative process firsthand. A place where we can personally present our grievances to those that represent us.
Today (Sept. 11) I went to the USS Yorktown to witness the 9/11 Memorial Service. It was at this service that the names of all of those lives lost were read aloud by friends and family of those that were lost, various JROTC and Scout groups, and members of our armed forces. The first names were read by Tim Callanan, a former employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, a company that lost numerous employees in the attacks. It was truly a moving experience, and served as a reminder of the tragedy we endured that day.
The service also served to remind me of the unsung heroes in the aftermath. The first responders that rushed into the burning buildings, oblivious to the fact that these acts of duty might be their last. The scores of young men and women that rushed to join our armed forces in the days, weeks, and years that followed. The countless family members that will never see a loved one again, whether they were lost in the attacks, or the military actions that followed. Last, but not least anonymous heroes that have set up organizations to support those that have lost loved ones, or have been injured in the line of duty.
We may not be living in the most prosperous or peaceful times in our nation’s history, however I believe that our country’s best days lie ahead. I have faith that the citizens of this great country will boldly face the challenges before us and continue to propel our nation forward. Ten years after this horrible attack upon our nation, the spirit of our nation burns brightly in the hearts of millions of Americans. We have not been defeated and never will be. May God bless your families and may God continue to bless America.