On September 11, 2001, I was in our office in the Reagan Building when someone down the hall yelled, “You ought to turn on the TV!”

We turned on the TV and saw the flames coming from one of the World Trade Towers. As we were watching live, we saw the second plane go into the second tower. At that point, we recognized that this was an act of terrorism.

The first thing that came to my mind as I looked at those towers burning was: “How many people are in those towers? How would thousands upon thousands of people get out of those buildings?” It was unimaginable to me to think about those individuals and the obvious suffering that we saw. It was overwhelming.

At the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, eight athletes carried in the American flag that was flying above the World Trade Center that day—it was tattered and burned. As it was brought in, the audience that we expected to burst into cheers was instead totally silent. There was complete reverence.

The athletes stopped in front of the Tabernacle Choir. And as they began to perform the National Anthem, there was not a dry eye in that stadium as people contemplated the words that were sung and that flag in our presence. For me in that moment, our flag was a symbol of the great sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom.

On the anniversary of 9/11, we honor all of those who lost their lives that day—including the first responders who rushed into harm’s way. We also salute the brave men and women who have served in defense of our nation since that day. May we never forget.



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