It is almost impossible to believe that the events of Sept. 11 happened 20 years ago this year. I remember where I was on that terrible day, as I am sure many of you do. The loss of almost 3,000 lives on American soil left a permanent scar on our country and affected families worldwide, and we must continue honoring their memory every day.
In the days after September 11th, stories began to filter out from Ground Zero. Stories of hero after hero who ran directly into an unprecedented situation — at great risk to their own lives.
From firefighters who climbed the stairs of the World Trade Center towers knowing that, at any moment, the building could come crashing down around them to amateur radio operators who helped maintain emergency communications channels and went to Ground Zero to help search for survivors.
Emergency medical personnel came from all over the area to Ground Zero, whether on duty or off.
They evacuated and treated the individuals who had been inside the Twin Towers at the time of the crashes. Office employees who worked in the Twin Towers went back into the building, time and time again, to search for and save friends, coworkers, and strangers who needed help. The captains and crew of boats docked near New York City came to the island of Manhattan to evacuate survivors and others stranded there.
At the Pentagon crash site, brave men and women serving their country in the Department of Defense assisted in evacuating their coworkers and beginning to search the rubble for other survivors. We also heard of the great heroism of the passengers of Flight 93, who made a valiant effort to retake control of their flight from the terrorists. Instead of hitting its target of Washington DC, Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all on board but taking no other lives. The individuals on Flight 93 chose to risk their lives to save the lives of those they had never met.
In prior newsletters, we have spoken of our appreciation for first responders and our men and women of the armed forces. On September 11th, everyday Americans joined in with first responders and members of our armed forces to protect and serve others in danger. I hope you will join my family and me in honoring the memories of those lost on September 11th. We are immensely grateful for those who answered the call on that day, and we will continue to support those who have protected our country at home and abroad ever since. I hope we can find that same spirit of unity that we saw twenty years ago as we face our nation’s current and future challenges. I am reminded of the immortal words of our nation’s Star-Spangled Banner — “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto — ‘In God is our Trust.’ And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
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Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.