As we approach the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2011, the generation of service members who joined because of it is approaching retirement. After 20 years of war, deployments and family separations, they're tired. But they are still serving.
This month, there will be a new wave of young students learning what happened almost 20 years ago. They will have questions that parents in their 30s and 40s struggle to answer. These parents put aside their work, their busy schedule, their own fears to explain -- as best they can -- what happened.
In a decade or two, the generation defined by 9/11 will reminisce with the generation defined by COVID-19. And years after that, our children will be doing the same thing, explaining to their children America’s response to tragedy.
One thing rings true, on this Sept. 11 and each one to follow: Americans will remember what happened. They'll remember the beautiful day shattered by tragedy. They'll remember clinging to strangers, awaiting news of loved ones. They'll remember the united front and the sense of pride when an American flag was raised over a building or a pile of debris.
Earlier this year, we were reminded of how Americans unite in times of uncertainty. We saw a huge outpouring of support for medical professionals at the start of the pandemic as thousands of people made masks to send to them. We saw friends come together to support each other when jobs were lost, kids were home and supplies were flying off of shelves.
Over the last two decades, we’ve seen several instances of nationwide support in dark times. From Boston to California, we’ve seen communities and the nation rally behind first responders, just as they did on 9/11.
We continue to see support for teachers and students as they navigate a new school year full of uncertainty. No matter what life throws our way, we see everyday Americans, everyday heroes, responding to the needs of their community.
This is how we can confidently say that we will remember, today and every day, the things that happened to define our nation and ourselves.
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