Like many Americans, I will never forget where I was on September 11, 2001. I was at home in Colville, Washington, a young state representative at the time. It was 15 years ago, but I remember it like it were yesterday.
That fateful September morning changed us forever.
All at once a nation was forced to cope with the fragility of life and the harsh realization of hatred and extremism building beyond our borders — and within.
When I see the chaos in the world around us today, these memories and this anniversary weigh heavier on my heart each year. I think of the recent image of the young boy in the back of the ambulance in Aleppo, and my heart breaks knowing that my three young children will never know a pre-9/11 world. Cole, Grace, and Brynn have never known an America not at war.
They, and millions of other young people, have been denied that innocence by forces that seek to destroy us. This world, this chaos, is their inheritance.
Each anniversary we show the videos and share our stories, not to keep open old wounds, but to do all we can to keep the significance of that day alive for those too young to understand.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. To see the faces of the victims, forever venerated in photos along the wall, left me shaken to my core. They were ordinary people going about their daily lives. They were moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents and children, just like us and our loved ones.
“Never Forget” isn’t just about preserving the memory of these lives cut too short — it’s about remembering what’s at stake: our values, our country, and our children’s futures.
What we believed 15 years ago is what we’ve believed since our founding, and still holds true today. That representative government and freedom of speech and religion are precious gifts; that America is a beacon of hope to the world; and that neither we, nor our allies, should live in fear as we go about our daily lives.
Now more than ever, the United States needs to lead. Islamist extremism remains a serious threat, not simply a nuisance. I’m grateful for the brave men and women at Fairchild Air Force Base and personnel around the world who have pledged their lives to protect and serve their country, and preserve these beliefs.
On this somber anniversary of both the 2001 attacks and the Benghazi attack in 2012, I encourage you to share your stories, and to read these posts by my colleagues. Together we can keep the memories of the fallen alive, and renew in the next generation why we stand strong against terror everywhere.