It has been 15 years since the September 11th attacks. 15 years since Al-Qaeda launched one of the largest acts of terrorism against the United States, leaving an indelible mark on our countryside and lives. Four hijackings, four crashes, and over 3,000 lives lost made our world seem broken. They had destroyed our Twin Towers, marred our Pentagon, and attempted to obliterate the White House. We lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. We had been violated in our own country and we felt vulnerable. However, as a people, we Americans are resilient, and we have grown stronger from this in the last 15 years.
We must never forget what happened 15 years ago. We must not forget the fear, the anger, the sadness, and the vulnerability we felt as a country. We must not forget that we had become complacent. Since then we have made moves to be proactive, creating the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, allocating larger budgets for the DoD and FAA, and opening up avenues of communication between all of our departments. We have made strides to further protect ourselves from more terror attacks. Yet, history is prone to repeating itself, and complacency is creeping back into our lives.
We, as a country, are only as strong as our weakest members. We are strong only if we stand hand in hand, unified behind the stars and stripes. As a country we have moved to further our defense against outside attacks, but we must also foster better relationships amongst ourselves. As we have seen over the last few years, terrorists have also made strides, morphing from terrorist cells to terrorist armies, recruiting online at lightning speeds.
Currently, this country is divided. We are divided in our beliefs, in our values, and in our priorities. Yet, differences can be a good thing. Without differing ideas and opinions, change and improvement will not occur. However, we have become too close-minded and intolerant of opposing views. When our differences move to divide us that is when we must change. This country has forgotten the lesson we learned 15 years ago. From jokes and advertisements referencing September 11th, from the way public figures and opposing groups speak about and treat each other, and from the intolerance shown daily across social media and news outlets, we have begun to disrespect and forget the sacrifices made all those years ago.
Last year we spoke about the irrepressible spirit of our nation. We look to honor and live up to that spirit by reminding everyone to respect their fellow man. On the day when the Towers fell and the Pentagon was hit, differences were set aside, unimportant compared to the brothers and sisters that could be lost. On this 15th anniversary of the many lives lost and the lives sacrificed to save others, we ask everyone to set aside their differences, break bread and rejoice in our freedoms, remembering the promise of a nascent country back in 1776 to cherish and hold dear the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Finally, remember that we grow in strength and purpose every day, and that at the end of the day, for all the tragedy and triumph, we as a nation will always have hope!
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