This week Texans, Americans and all those who love freedom throughout the world marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Already we are bombarded with remembrances, the replay of minute-by-minute telecasts from that day, and the more scientific analysis of what happened to explain the horrific destruction of the World Trade Center Towers.
But for myself, my moments of contemplation and prayer on this sad and tragic anniversary will focus on those who gave their lives that day and the loved ones they left behind. This act of terrorism may have occurred in the world’s busiest city, but Texans and rural communities throughout this nation suffered loss that day.
A Texan like Barbara Olson, raised in Houston and who rose to become a leading political commentator, was aboard Flight 77 as it was flown into the Pentagon. Daniel Martin Caballero, a Naval Electronics Technician Third Class and Army Lt. Col. Karen Wagner were working in the Pentagon that morning. All three Texans perished that day. Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, a Stratford High School graduate who worked for Good Housekeeping Magazine and was three months pregnant; she was one of the heroes aboard Flight 93 that sacrificed everything to overpower the plane’s hijackers.
Texas has given many of its finest young women and men to defend our freedom. Many of them come from our small towns, from farms and ranches.
In these twenty years since 9/11, over 600 Texans have given their lives in the fight against terrorism. The loss of these heroes is incalculable. It is especially important that we remember them on this day.
In a corner of northwest Harris County stands the Fallen Warriors Memorial. It is dedicated to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the global war against terror. This quiet corner of dignity and peace is where Texans come to understand what we as a people have sacrificed to this cause. At this time of global turmoil, it is our duty as Americans and Texans to not forget why this memorial exists and how, if we are not careful, history can repeat itself.
Whether it be New York City, Pentagon City, Shanksville, PA or even Northwest Harris County, these places are now hallowed ground; places of quiet contemplation to honor those who died that day and to those who continue to fight a ceaseless enemy opposed to our values and our way of life.
So, as we think, as we pray and as we reflect on these twenty years since 9/11, let’s honor those who gave so much for our nation and the principles it is founded upon. Let their deaths not be in vain as we enter the next era where our American freedom is on the line.
God bless those who were lost, God bless their families and God bless America. Still the world’s beacon of freedom. Still that ‘Shining City on a Hill.’