Yesterday marked the twenty-second anniversary of the deadly terror attacks on September 11, 2001, a day that started like any other but quickly became the deadliest day our nation has ever seen. 

In that profound moment of darkness, the brightest facets of America shone through.  

We witnessed bravery, compassion, and selflessness from everyday people; travelers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, other first responders, fathers, and mothers – all united as Americans with the common goal of restoring what had been broken.   

However, as the years have passed, a new generation of Americans either don’t remember the evil displayed through the senseless acts that occurred on that day or were not yet born.

I was three years old, living in a rural part of Wisconsin, in a pocket of the country where life moves a lot slower, and the biggest news you’d hear is learning that the fresh cheese curds at our hometown IGA were sold out for the day.  

I remember sitting in our front bay window watching my dad drive into the driveway. He rarely came home early. I remember him rushing to the television and fumbling with the antenna to get a clear signal for the news to come through.  

Next, I remember seeing the devastation on my parents’ faces as their eyes were intensely glued to that television. That was one of the only times I remember seeing my dad cry.   

The rest of the day, my parents did their best to distract both my one-year-old little sister and me with activities such as finger painting, cartoons (which I rarely got to watch), and listening to my mom read us chapters upon chapters of C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia series.    

Though my recollection of the events was limited, as I’ve gotten older and observed many 9/11 anniversaries, I am thankful that I do remember. 

While the effects of the events of September 11th are forever engrained in our minds and have left voids in our hearts, I find peace in reflecting on what happened the next day, on September 12th, 2001. 

Americans locked arms and began to climb out of the rubble. A new sense of the American spirit prevailed over immense tragedy.  

Unity was on display in its rarest form, something we’ve never seen since, and I fear we won’t again.  

In an article published in the Carolina Journal, Locke’s CEO, Donald Bryson, touched on the threats to liberty after 9/11, saying:   

“The attacks on September 11, while a stark reminder of external threats to liberty, should also remind us to be guardians of freedom on all fronts. Let us remember that the strength of a nation lies not only in its ability to defend itself but also in its dedication to upholding the principles of freedom that make it truly exceptional.”  

As Donald stated, it’s our responsibility to preserve the freedoms that so many fought and even died to protect.  

Friend, the things that divide us are far fewer than what unites us. We stood together then, and we stand together now.

May we never forget.