September 11th, 2001 was one of the most consequential days in American memory. Just about everyone remembers where they were and how they felt watching the World Trade Center collapse, the crash site at the Pentagon burn, and hearing about the American heroism on United Flight 93 that was rumored to be headed for another landmark in Washington, D.C. It was one of the most difficult moments in our nation’s history, and as we observe the 20th anniversary of that terrible September day tomorrow, we are unfortunately feeling the aftershocks more than ever.

To say the situation in Afghanistan – the headquarters of the terror group that orchestrated the September 11th attacks – is disheartening would be the understatement of the century. Here we are, 20 years later and the same people who harbored and supported the men who took 2,977 American lives on September 11th are again running the country. Four Taliban members who have been given top government positions are former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were released by President Obama in exchange for Army-deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. The new interior minister is the leader of a U.S.-designated terror group and has a $5 million FBI bounty on his head.

It could be said that the Biden Administration created the August 31st withdrawal deadline so the President could tout its success in ending the war in Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of September 11th and write themselves as heroes into the history books. But his hopes and reality are two very different things. The current state of their country shows this withdrawal was an absolute disaster. The aforementioned terrorists have retaken control and the human rights advancements of the last 20 years, particularly for young girls and women, are being wiped out. The Biden Administration doesn’t even know how many Americans they have left behind in Afghanistan. What we do know is 13 American service members, including Missourian, Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, lost their lives in the process. The way in which these events have unfolded has been truly tragic, and I am devastated for the veterans and military families whose loved ones have served in Afghanistan. So many brave Americans enlisted in the military in the wake of the September 11th attacks, and on this anniversary, we honor and thank them for all they sacrificed to keep our nation safe.

On a day that should be reserved for paying tribute to people we lost 20 years ago and the thousands of Americans who stepped forward in our defense since, we are mourning for the soldiers and families who fell victim to terrorism in Afghanistan just two weeks ago, and praying more Americans aren’t taken from us. As much sadness and anger I feel over the current situation, it is important that we continue honoring the victims of 9/11 and remind ourselves how thankful we are for the first responders who ran into collapsing buildings to save as many lives as possible. The soldiers who joined the military in defense of freedom and every American cannot be overshadowed by an unfit President’s failure.

20 years ago, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers left their houses and kissed their loved ones goodbye not knowing it would be the last time. They went to work or got on a plane and were never able to return home. Firefighters, police officers, EMT’s and brave citizens who wanted to help were lost that day. In the years since, we’ve also lost thousands of Americans to the health effects of being near the attack sites. Their lives and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Long after each of us reading this article are gone, those Americans will be remembered for their place in history, their heroism and the resiliency of the families who lived with the consequences. As we observe this solemn day, please join me in keeping the families of the victims, first responders, Americans lost 20 years ago and members of our military who lost their lives in the War on Terror, included the young men and women killed two weeks ago, in your prayers.

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