Mick Rankin for NC House
On September 11th we mark the 20th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. by Al-Qaida terrorists. On that day almost 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives and over 6,000 more wounded. Even more since. Every year we hear the question “Do you remember what you were doing when the planes flew into the towers?” I do remember clearly, straddled on top of the main mast of the USS TRENTON (LPD 14) in Norfolk, VA conducting a Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspection. Most of us will have an answer, but for 84.5 million Americans, 26% of the population, there is no answer, they were too young or had not yet been born. It is important that we share our experience and help them understand the enormity of that fateful day, including the pictures and videos some feel are too graphic to show. Still, for those who were there the pictures and videos do not do justice the death and destruction they witnessed.
It is also important to remember the aftermath of the attack. How we came together to help each other. Volunteers streaming to Ground Zero, the field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon to help those trapped and wounded. The best of America on full display. We may have been punched in the gut, but we rose up and fought back. First in the places attacked, then later in places where the attack was planned.
We spent 20 long years chasing terrorists and fostering an idea of a free society in a people who had only ever known oppression. That spark of the American Spirit will be thorn in the side the terrorists emboldened by our recent departure. We may have physically left, but the Spirit of America lives on in the young Afghans who have had a taste of freedom.
Commemorate this day with humble reverence that our existence is beacon to the world. Let us always strive to shine the light of the American Spirit for the world to follow. In the famous words of Todd Beamer (Flight 93, 9/11) – “LET’S ROLL!”