Fifteen years ago today (Sunday) I was seeing patients in our clinic in Blue Ash, Ohio, on what seemed like a regular Tuesday morning.
Not long after my day had started, an assistant came back to my clinic area with bad news: a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. At first, I just wondered how, or why. Probably a terrible and freak accident, I assumed. Not long after that, the she returned and told me that another plane had struck the Twin Towers. I remember staring at her in disbelief and saying: “This is no accident.”
We then watched in horror as reports also surfaced about an attack on the Pentagon and a planned attack on the U.S. Capitol Building that had been fatally diverted to Pennsylvania.
That was the day the world stopped turning, as Alan Jackson so rightly put it. The day we lost over 3,000 Americans to an ideology driven by hatred and violence. The day when diabolical evil created huge voids in our families and took first responders from our communities. The day that America, and the world, changed forever.
We’ll never forget that terrible day. We mustn’t forget that day.
But we also can’t afford to forget what happened in the days and weeks that followed.
On September 12, 2001, we as a nation woke up with a resolve to seek out this evil and destroy it, wherever it may lurk. We banded together, as generations of Americans before us had, to protect our country from those who sought to destroy it. We took the fight to our enemies and vowed to rid the world of their hateful and deadly ideology.
It was a time of mourning, but also of great unity, resilience, and determination.
It’s that unity and resilience and determination that we need now more than ever.
Fifteen years later, radical Islamic terrorism remains a serious threat to our national security. Overseas, the Middle East has become a vacuum of opportunity for groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda to grow and add to their ranks. Families are fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq in one of the worst refugee crises we’ve ever seen.
What happens elsewhere matters. The enemies of freedom have resumed reaching American shores. So far in 2016, 26 people have been arrested in 13 states on terrorism-related charges. In Orlando, 49 Americans were killed in the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Fourteen people were killed in San Bernardino. Authorities have uncovered 30 ISIS-linked plots to attack the West in the U.S. alone.
We’re engaged in a war between good and evil. If we’re to have any chance of winning it, we must remain united and committed to the fight. United we stand, divided we fall.
On this 15th anniversary of September 11, take time to honor those we lost and the families that continue to grieve. Pray for our men and women in uniform, many too young to remember that day, who risk their lives daily to ensure we don’t witness a similar attack in the future. They are, however, old enough to remember the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. We remember them as well.
Together let’s renew that spirit of unity that we felt on September 12, 2001. Our American future is at stake.
Brad Wenstrup was elected in 2012 to represent the people of Ohio’s Second Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.