Memories fade with the passage of time. What one generation experienced firsthand becomes another generation’s history.
But some memories—Pearl Harbor, 9/11—remain especially powerful. They represent transformational moments in our nation’s history.
Just 15 years ago this coming September 11, the terrorists violated our nation and shattered our sense of security. Life would never be the same again.
Today 9/11 is one of the hinge events in modern American history. It’s an event that forever changed our country. Our nation came together in an act of national unity and solidarity in the weeks after 9/11.
What happened nearly 60 years earlier—Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941—represented a similar such hinge event. We came together as a nation and mobilized to win the war against fascism.
Today we remember Pearl Harbor and 9-11-01 for both the barbarism against us, and the bravery we showed thereafter. Tragedy hurts us, and it also unites us. Our resolve is never stronger then after a horrific attack.
We responded quickly to those forces that attacked us. After Pearl Harbor, Doolittle’s Raid represented our nation’s first response. After 9/11, the U.S. Army Rangers, under the command of my older brother, Steve, spearheaded our nation’s first public response. After these tragic events, our nation awakened and looked for leadership. Our Rangers answered our nation’s cry!
Leadership connects to our hearts. Action settles our hearts. And time heals our hearts.
As I walked through the 9/11 Memorial Museum with my daughter two weeks ago, our hearts ached. Everywhere we looked, we saw death and public recognition of altruistic bravery. Many died so that others might live. Bravery eclipsed the moment!
From fire fighters to police officers, many first responders made the ultimate sacrifice. We hope the remembrance of life through this physical memorial remains unifying.
Memorials are indeed powerful, and they help remind us of the ties that bind us to each other. Even more importantly, they provide a timely reminder that these American lives were not given in vain.