20 years after 9/11, US must remain vigilant
Sept. 11, 2001, is etched in my memory and has never faded, even after two decades. It is in our national interest to remember the horrific events of 9/11 to remain steadfast against terrorism to ensure this never happens again.
The world stopped for all of us on Sept. 11 as we watched in horror as terrorists senselessly killed our fellow citizens on American soil. We lost thousands of Americans to violence at the hands of al Qaeda, a group of Islamists intent on our destruction.
This catapulted us into war in the Middle East and Afghanistan. American troops and allies invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban government with the goal to destroy al Qaeda, the Taliban’s ally that was responsible for 9/11. This invasion became our nation’s longest war, and last month, we ended this war in chaos and left Americans behind because of weak leadership and failed foreign policy.
I hoped these words commemorating the 20th anniversary of the darkest day in American history would solely be spent remembering the fallen, honoring our first- responders, and thanking our servicemen and women for keeping our nation safe from terror. Unfortunately, recent events have forced the narrative to become more complex.
Twenty years later, it is heartbreaking to see Afghanistan, the country where 9/11 originated, overrun by terrorists who have access to billions of dollars’ worth of our military equipment, with hundreds of Americans reportedly trapped there.
Finishing strong is essential. I am on the record opposing endless wars and supported the mission of bringing our troops home, but the way we withdrew jeopardized the progress we made, placed American lives in immediate danger, and could cause Afghanistan to become a hub for terrorism once again. We withdrew from Afghanistan with dishonor and recklessness, losing soldiers and leaving Americans behind. This was all preventable, and such serious mismanagement of the situation on the ground is why I signed onto Articles of Impeachment against President Joe Biden.
The shadow of 9/11 hovers over us, and the threat of Islamic radicalism is still prevalent and is on the rise with the Taliban’s takeover. With two unaddressed crises raging in both Afghanistan and at the Southern border, our national security is at stake.
The United States, despite its flaws, continues to stand as a beacon of democracy, liberty, and prosperity for the world. To preserve the freedoms so many fought and died for, maintaining peace through strength is necessary. The United States is safe when the United States is strong. President Ronald Reagan emphasized this and said the best way to maintain peace is through strength, since weakness invites aggression.
Now that we face a less-certain future than we did just a few months ago, we must remain vigilant, learning from lessons of the past 20 years, honoring commitments made to our veterans, and doing everything we can to safeguard our nation from the threat of Islamic terrorism. We must evacuate the hundreds of Americans trapped under a terrorist regime in Afghanistan and ensure Afghan evacuees accepted into the United States are adequately vetted to ensure safety within our borders.
There is no other nation on the face of the earth like America, and it is something worth defending. We know freedom is fragile and never more than one generation away from extinction, as President Reagan reminded us. This is why I relentlessly stand for freedom and the preservation of the country I love. Now is the time for the United States to lead by strength to maintain peace and prevent history from repeating itself through the rise of terrorism.
Though 20 years have passed, the memory of Sept. 11 is still fresh, especially for the loved ones of those who tragically died that day in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Pennsylvania.
We take time to remember and thank our heroes – police officers and first-responders who responded to 9/11 – as well as soldiers who served and died in Afghanistan. Their sacrifice to guard against terrorism was extremely important and not in vain. We especially remember the 13 American service members tragically killed in Kabul last month. There is no question their actions saved American lives.
On 9/11, we also remember the ninth anniversary of the tragic terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Ty Woods, Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith, the four brave Americans we lost because of a government that failed them.
I continue to pray for God’s blessing on the United States of America and that He will guide us to a place of peace through strength, allowing us to defend freedom for generations to come.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican, represents South Carolina's 3rd District in the US Congress.