Rep. Kinzinger (R-IL): After 9/11, I stepped up and served my country

Fifteen years.  It’s hard to believe it has been fifteen years since the world witnessed the worst terrorist attack in history, and the United States suffered its worst attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Fifteen years ago today, on September 11, 2001, America was attacked by radical Islamists and suffered the loss of more than 3,000 innocent lives with more than 6,000 people injured.  We lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters.  We lost our sense of security as we witnessed true evil that fateful Tuesday morning.

Fifteen years later, each of us can vividly remember where we were that day and we remember the moment when we heard the horrible, unimaginable news of each attack:

8:46am – World Trade Center, Tower 1

9:03am – World Trade Center, Tower 2

9:37am – Pentagon

10:03am – Shanksville, PA

Fifteen years have passed, but it’s a day we’ll never forget and a day where telling each other of where we were, who we knew, how we felt brings a sense of unity, of comfort, and understanding.

I was driving to work when I heard the news, and I knew right then that America would never be the same.  I also knew I had to do something – I had to step up and serve to protect my country.  A few weeks later, I joined the United States Air Force, Air National Guard.  It was an honor to wear the uniform, to defend the American flag, and to proudly serve my country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fifteen years later, the War on Terror is far from over.  Freedom loving nations around the world have felt the effects of Islamist terrorism, and we stand with them in the fight to remove the cancer that is ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical groups.  We stand with our allies because they stood with us.

Fifteen years ago, NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty for the first time in its history to support the United States after the 9/11 attacks.  NATO has been a valued partner in the War on Terror and their continued support has alleviated some of the strain put on our troops, especially in places like Afghanistan.

Fifteen years later, we need to remember that freedom isn’t free.  We must support our men and women in uniform, as they serve and when they return home.  We must recognize the critical importance of defending our liberty while standing together with our allies to ensure peace and security throughout the world.

Fifteen years later, we must celebrate the stories of courage, bravery, sacrifice, and selflessness from 9/11. We must remember the heroes – the first responders, the Good Samaritans – the very best in humanity who continually triumph over the very worst.

Fifteen years later, we can never let evil win. Instead, America must stand taller and shine brighter to show the world it continues to be that beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Hebrews 6:19