Rep. Mullin (R-OK): 9/11 forced us to rethink everything we’d ever known

Before I turned 6 years old, I asked my parents if I could spend my birthday on an airplane.  So on my 6th birthday, I went to the airport with my mom, and I simply walked onto a plane – no luggage, no boarding pass, and no security checkpoint.  We didn’t fly anywhere that day – and we never intended to – I just wanted to see an airplane for my birthday.  So we literally walked into the airport and onto my very first airplane, without ever having to go through security.

Since the attack on our nation’s soil on September 11, 2001, this kind of trip to the airport is unheard of.

While I hope and pray each day that a tragedy of this magnitude will never happen again, September 11 redefined our nation. It forced us to rethink everything we had ever known. It forced us to change our national security stance, our foreign policy, and our leadership in the War on Terror around the globe. We, as a country that boasts an unmatched number of rights and freedoms, had to add qualifiers to some of them in the name of keeping our citizens safe. We had to find that careful balance between protecting the freedoms granted to us in the Constitution, and infringing on those freedoms in order to keep our citizens safe. It’s a balance that our nation continues to struggle with. It’s an ongoing challenge of tug of war about how safe is too safe, and how many restrictions are too many restrictions.

I believe that we need to stay vigilant, both as a nation and as individuals. My wife and I often talk to our kids about the importance of being aware of their surroundings and being vigilant when they are in public. We teach them to be proactive, not reactive, so that when danger strikes, they can act quickly to carry out a plan that ensures their safety. Our country should operate no differently. Post-September 11, our nation took necessary precautions to ensure the security of our nation and its citizens. Our national security should not be taken lightly, and it’s crucial that the leaders of our nation continue to work vigilantly to make sure America is safe and secure for generations to come.

September 11, 2001 is a day forever changed our nation’s course. Fifteen years later, we still remember the courage of our first responders, we mourn the lives that were lost that day, and we comfort the friends and family members who experienced a loss so great. On each and every anniversary of September 11 to come, it is my hope that America will continue the fight, at home and abroad, for the freedoms that we have been given. Because at the end of the day, the freedoms and liberties granted to us, are what make America so great.