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9/11: Lessons learned must be carried forward

Today marks a somber anniversary for Americans — our annual reminder that we told ourselves we would “never forget,” after the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. We would never forget the nearly 3,000 lives lost — citizens of 78 different countries, by the way. We would never forget the heroes who rushed in, who were the best of us that day, while terror drove everyone else in the opposite direction.

We would never forget the need to respond to that level of heroism by being the best of what America was meant to be.

We would not respond to extremists who hated us so much they wanted to destroy us by becoming what they said we were.

No. We would be united as never before, we would love our country and each other in a land where freedom and opportunity were still a beacon to the entire planet.

We would embrace each other, understanding the truth in the very thing the terrorists hated most of all: E pluribus unum — Out of many, one. We would revel in the knowledge that Americans come in all colors, creeds, races, religions, political leanings and nations of birth. It did not matter whether your family had been in this country for 10 generations or 10 minutes, on that day, we were ALL Americans, and somehow understood what that meant.

We were never going to forget that. We were never going to let anything tear that apart.

Today, the college students brought to our attention because of their protests or their parties were all either too young to remember that day 19 years ago, or had yet to be born. They know what happened because they study it in school. But they don’t know how Sept. 11, 2001, felt.

What are we showing them about the lessons we learned? What evidence do they have that the 3,000 people who died that day because of what the United States of America stood for have, in fact, not been forgotten?

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