How we felt the morning of September 12

I will never forget where I was on September 11, 2001.

I will also never forget the feeling I had waking up the morning of September 12.

The shock and uncertainty after the previous day’s attack hadn’t faded, but I felt more connected to my neighbors than I did before. Though we lived thousands of miles from New York and Washington, D.C., we too were under attack and our values threatened.

We were united. Our country leaned on each other, stood together, and was focused on a better future — free from terror — to pass on to our children.

I see these same qualities emerging again as millions face the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the fires devastating my beloved Pacific Northwest. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us of who we are as a nation, and it’s the images of strangers helping strangers that show the true character of our people.

Out of the rubble, the smoke, the floods emerges a stronger American spirit, and people arm in arm to face any challenge the next day may bring.

This week, I encourage you to take a moment to read the following posts by my colleagues. As we remember those we lost in the attacks on September 11, 16 years ago on the east coast and five years ago in Benghazi, we must do all we can today to stay as united as we were on those September 12s.


Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) on My 9/11 experience from the White House

For me, as for most Americans, the images of September 11, 2001 remain seared in my memory. As a young man serving in the White House for President George W. Bush, I vividly recall the emotions of that day – first shock as I watched the two planes fly into the World Trade Center, then outrage when it became clear it was a terrorist attack, and, ultimately, profound grief for the victims and those who lost loved ones on that day. There was no alarm; just people frantically telling us to get out fearing another plane would crash into the White House at any moment.

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Rep. John Faso (R-NY) on I’ll never forget seeing the still-smoldering Ground Zero

“I, along with millions of others, watched helplessly and in a state of disbelief as we watched the towers fall in quick succession. Then, news of the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of an airliner in Pennsylvania allowed us to finally grasp the enormity of the attack. A few days later, I toured the still-smoldering site with other state and local officials. That’s an image I won’t soon forget.”

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Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) on “I knew the world had forever changed”

“It was a moment I will never forget as the General put all bases on alert and fighter planes in place. His composure was cool, calm, and collected during a time of complete uncertainty and fear. When I saw the president’s address later that day, I cried. I knew the world had changed. September 11, 2001 altered the next 13 years for me in the Air Force.”

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House Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) on MSNBC:

“We have made a lot of progress since 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11. My committee was created as a result of 9/11. Everything we do on the committee and in the department is to make sure we can prevent another 9/11 from happening. So it’s a very solemn moment that we reflect on, and remember those who lost their lives and never forget.”