Findlay Courier – September 11, 2023
As we mark the 22nd anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, it is difficult to fathom that more than two decades have passed since that fateful day. The images of the Twin Towers collapsing, the Pentagon in flames, and the heroic efforts of first responders are etched into the collective memory of a generation. September 11, 2001 is a day that changed the course of history, and it’s a day with lessons we must never forget.
I vividly remember the shock and disbelief that swept through our nation as we watched the events of that morning unfold on television. It was a day when the world stood still, when the unimaginable became our harsh reality. Thousands of innocent lives were lost, and countless families were forever changed.
Out of the darkness and devastation, we also witnessed something extraordinary – the strength, resilience, and unity of the American people. In the face of unspeakable tragedy, we came together as a nation, demonstrating that our resolve could not be broken. The immediate aftermath of 9/11 was a testament to the indomitable spirit of our country. We saw firefighters, police officers, and first responders rushing toward danger, risking their lives to save others. Ordinary citizens stepped up to help in any way they could, from donating blood to providing comfort to those in need. The outpouring of support from around the world showed that America was not alone in its grief.
Ohio was not immune to the impact of the infamous day’s events. Within minutes of the attack, Ohioans sprung to action in defense of our homeland. Ohio Air National Guard pilots took to the skies to protect American lives. F-16s were scrambled from the 180th Fighter Wing in Northwest Ohio to intercept commercial airplanes that remained in flight over American soil. KC-135s from the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus were sent to refuel the military aircraft. Of course, by late September and into October, Ohio National Guard Airmen and Soldiers from throughout Ohio were called to active duty to support America’s War on Terrorism.
In the years that followed, we faced difficult decisions and challenges as a nation. The War on Terror led us into Afghanistan and Iraq, and the scars of those conflicts remain with us today. We grappled with questions of security and civil liberties, seeking to strike a balance between protecting our nation, upholding our values, and honoring the Constitution.
Despite the challenges and divisions that arose in the wake of 9/11, we must remember the fundamental principles that make our country great: freedom, democracy, and the belief that we are stronger together. We must also honor the memory of those who perished that day by ensuring that their sacrifice was not in vain.
In the face of adversity, America has always risen to the occasion. We have faced our share of trials and tribulations, but we have also demonstrated an unwavering spirit and determination to overcome. As we remember 9/11, let us honor the memory of those we lost by continuing to be a beacon of resilience for the world. May we recognize that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. That it must be fought for. That we must remain vigilant in the face of new and emerging threats with strong alliances that mitigate shared security burdens in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific and other theaters around the world.
In the end, it is not the terrorists who define us; it is our response to their actions that truly matters. Today, Americans can proudly say that we have not allowed the events of 9/11 to diminish our spirit or erode our values. We have emerged stronger, more resilient. And as we look to the future, we must carry the lessons of 9/11 with us, ensuring that the legacy of that day is one of hope, strength, and a commitment to stronger, safer and more prosperous nation.
Matt Dolan is a State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate.
A version of this op-ed ran in the Findlay Courier the week of Sept 11, 2023.