Sept. 11 still has lessons to teach


Last updated 9/6/2023 at 4:12pm | View PDF

Monday marks 22 years since the terrorist attacks that shook the nation and launched a global battle against Islamic extremism that continues today. Hinsdale residents Bob Rasmussen and Jeff Mladenik were among the 2,996 lives lost in those shocking acts of mass murder committed the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, searing images of both unspeakable horror and awe-inspiring heroism into our collective memory. More than 6,000 were injured.

For those of us who can remember the horror of that day, the memory of the experience likely surfaces more vividly than most more than two decades removed. A new generation now rises who know of the events only through historical accounts and the personal recollections we share. And it is important to share them so that both the unimaginable anguish and unbelievable acts of heroism and sacrifice continue to provide clarity for a better path ahead.

May these remarks delivered by President George W. Bush to a reeling American people the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, help stir constructive conversation:

“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.

“The victims were in airplanes or in their offices — secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.

“The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.

“America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

“Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

“Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.

“None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”

And one needn’t look far to witness the good and just, with nonprofit organizations, faith communities and residents of all ages doing their part to bring relief and resources to their neighbors in need.

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11,” President Barack Obama said of a meaningful way to remember Sept. 11.

So this Monday — Patriots’ Day — put out your flag, say a prayer for our nation and find a way to give back as a tribute to those who gave all.


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