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Remembering 9/11, 20 Years Later

911 Twin Tower attacks

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I am saddened to write this letter. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, when nearly 3,000 people were killed in attacks carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists in a plot orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.

World Trade Towers 911 terrorist attack

Robert Clark / Associated Press

Two of these planes hit the World Trade Towers in New York City and 2,763 folks were killed, almost 10,000 injured, and so many First Responders became ill and died from related injuries.

Pentagon 911 attack

Larry Downing / Reuters

The third plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters. Jet fuel caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.

911 Shanksville Pennsylvania

AFP / Getty Images

The fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania when brave passengers fought back against the hijackers before the plane crashed into the field, missing its intended target. Its intended target is not known, but many have theorized that the plane was headed towards the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard. All 44 people aboard were killed.

This year, it is expected that more people will have died from their toxic exposure from 9/11 than were killed on that terrible day. 

U.S. declares war in Iraq over

These attacks gave rise to major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism. We entered the war in Afghanistan where we experienced 2,448 military deaths and 3,846 civilian contractor fatalities. In Iraq, more than 4,550 Americans were killed. The number of civilian deaths is estimated to be 244,124 to 266,427Over 30,177 service members and veterans of the post-9/11 wars have committed suicide — more than four times as many as have died in combat.

U.S. troops walk at their base in Logar province Afghanistan

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

And I am not even mentioning those Americans who have been wounded, scarred, and will experience PTSD for life. 

War is an awful thing. People die and people get maimed. Unfortunately, humans are a warring and fighting species. 

Man waving American flag in front of White House

Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Living here in the United States, we have an amazing way of life: we have liberties, we have the arts, we have a constitution, we have voting rights, and we have free elections. 

Yosemite National Park

Condé Nast Traveler

We have an abundance of food, clean air, and potable water. We have National Parks and the public school system and public health policies that keep us safe and healthy.

Ben Shapiro Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Wikimedia Commons

We have open political arguments without fear of being executed or imprisoned. We can make mistakes and ask for forgiveness from those we wronged. 

Women have the freedom to go to college, work in any career, and have equal rights as men. We have the ability to move up in our society no matter what your background or race or religion may be. Our government does not limit how many children we can have. 

You can even change your religion without fear of reprisal.

It isn’t surprising that folks in certain countries with strict laws and restrictions are jealous or envious of us. And it is human nature to want to destroy us rather than use us as a role model for an improved society to strive for.

As an American, I am elated to enjoy all our freedoms and liberties and never want to take them for granted. However, I am also aware of the fact that these past Middle East wars will not be the last wars we will fight. I fear that terrorists will continue to attack us, and the 800-pound aggressive dictatorship that seeks global domination is China.

Let us never forget to stand guard and stand tall for the values we treasure.

God Bless the United States of America.

All my best,

Elliot Kallen


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