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The Reason for Remembrance

Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander

Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander

Very soon, our country will observe Patriot Day, our annual memorial of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that changed our nation.

Why do we commemorate anniversaries of the days that change our lives? As a force, we pride ourselves on being forward-thinking and future-focused, so why look back at something that happened almost two decades ago? The answer is simple. It is so we never forget.

First, remembering ensures the significance of these events is not lost on future generations. There will soon be people who will enlist in our Air Force who were not yet born when the Twin Towers fell. They need to understand the catalyst that drives our collective resolution in standing against terrorism. They need to know how and why mainland America felt vulnerable. Knowing the path of history creates a more mature understanding of the present and will help our nation’s leaders—and its citizens—navigate the future.

Secondly, remembering reminds us why we fight. In 2001, President Bush said, “We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.” Whether a military member, a civilian, or an ally, people must know why maintaining a ready and lethal force is crucial to national defense. The threats are real and significant; we must be ever-vigilant.

Lastly, honoring the anniversary of 9/11 is a way to heal. Healing is a long, continual process. Remembering the bravery of the first responders, the unmatched display of patriotism, the record-breaking charitable giving and all of the other generosities that manifested themselves bind the wounds of the heart. Those memories remind us that at its core, Americans will do anything for one another.

Let’s never forget. May God continue to bless our nation.