There are certain moments that define a generation. For some, it’s the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the moon landing, or the fall of the Berlin Wall.
If you are over the age of 25, however, you will never forget where you were when our nation was shaken by the heinous terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Like many Americans, the events on 9/11 are engrained in my memory.
I will never forget seeing the three airplanes hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists slam into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington. I will never forget the fourth plane that plowed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers and crew bravely disrupted the terrorists’ plan to attack the U.S. Capitol.
We remember the black smoke that billowed over the New York skyline, the gaping hole in the Pentagon, and watching the Twin Towers crumble.
We remember the heroic first responders, police, and firefighters rushing towards the danger to rescue those in harm’s way.
We remember learning that our nation was under attack.
We remember the stories of bravery and heroism from everyday Americans.
The attacks on 9/11 evoked many emotions. Anger at those who carried out the attacks, sadness for those lost, and unity as Americans coming together in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that occurred on 9/11, changed the lives of countless Americans. Following 9/11, many Americans from all backgrounds, decided to put service before self and asked, “What can I do; how can I make a difference?”
In the 20 years since, and even up to this past month, American service members have put their lives on the line to defend America in the war on terror. Those Americans who fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy these past 20 years represent the best America has to offer.
As we gather today to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it’s important that we remember the servicemembers who perished in the war on terror and their Gold Star families. To families of those who lost family members or friends, please know your loved ones died as heroes, and we will always honor their memories.
Sept. 11 was not only a tragedy where many lives were lost, but it also made people more aware and conscious of one another. The 9/11 Anniversary is a reminder that freedom is not free. The terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks attempted to instill fear in the American people. And while they may have left America shaken, they could not shake the very core of the American people – our belief in life, liberty, freedom, and patriotism. The events of that day have not and will never change the fabric of the United States that makes us a beacon of freedom and the greatest country on earth.
We will never forget 9/11, and we must ensure future generations understand the lessons of patriotism and heroism that came from that day: despite our differences, all of us can carry our love for our country.
May God bless those who perished on 9/11, may God bless our servicemembers, and may God bless America!
Never forget: Honoring 9/11 through the years in Bloomington-Normal
Congressman Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, has represented the 18th U.S. House district since 2015.