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The 9/11 Memorial in New York. (Photo: Flickr.)

Statements on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

By David Wildstein, September 11 2021 10:03 am


Twenty years ago, our nation changed forever.

Together, we stared directly into the face of evil as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history unfolded before our very eyes.

Today, as we mark twenty years that have gone by since that day, we must resolve to never forget the nearly 3,000 lives we lost and the thousands more who have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

We will never forget where we were on that day. The images of the towers crashing to the ground — of the clouds of smoke and debris scattering across lower Manhattan. We will never forget the sight of the Pentagon on fire or the debris field in Shanksville. The pain, shock, and horror we all felt in our hearts, and the fear of not knowing what might come next — we will carry these memories in our hearts forever.

And for those who lost family members and loved ones on 9/11, time may dull pain, but it will never fix what is broken. For them, today marks twenty years of missed birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and memories.

May we honor the memory of their loved ones by standing together in solidarity, by reflecting on the unity our nation demonstrated in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and once again working in common cause to repair our nation.


Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing—I was in Washington chairing a Veteran’s Affairs Committee hearing—when a group of radical jihadists hijacked 4 airliners to perpetrate the worst act of terrorism in American history.

Today—20 years later—we remember the horror and pain suffered by those who were murdered—147 from Monmouth County alone—and the anguish felt by their families and friends both then and now.

Who can forget the courageous first responders running up the stairs of the burning buildings—with total disregard for their own safety—saving some at the expense of their own lives?

Both then and now these courageous men and women have paid a huge price.

 According to the Victims Compensation Fund’s 20th Anniversary Special Report : “In the decades since 9/11, tens of thousands of responders and survivors have become sick or died because of their exposure… It is also sobering to see that more people are now believed to have died of 9/11-related illnesses than were lost on September 11, 2001.” As of June 30th, 4,627 are deceased. 

According to the World Trade Center Health Program, more responders and survivors today live in my congressional district than any other in New Jersey.  

Everyone pulled together that day—and in the days that followed.

According to a NJ.com story “The great boat lift of 9/11, the unsung story how hundreds of thousands were rescued that day: “caught between the river and a scene of Armageddon, salvation came in the form of a waterborne rescue, called the largest maritime evacuation in modern history…  Members of the Coast Guard and the Sandy Hook Pilots served in effect as air traffic control, using their knowledge of the harbor to direct vessels to designated pickup spots deep enough for each boat’s draft.”

The Great Boat lift of 9/11 evacuated nearly half a million people in nine hours, an extraordinary feat of the human spirit coming together when faced with the most dire adversity

On the morning of 9/11, I got a mere glimpse into the sense of horror suffered by the victim’s families when I couldn’t reach my own brother Tom—an American Airlines 757 Captain who often piloted Flight 11 from Logan to LA, the flight that crashed into the North Tower.

Evacuated from the Capitol and stuck in traffic within sight of the burning Pentagon, cell phones were all but gridlocked. About noon I got through.  He and his flight attendant wife Sandy were safe but were in tears because they knew the pilots and crew on board Flight 11.

 Because 9/11 was a surprise attack, there was no chance to fight back that day although when Todd Beamer and other passengers learned what happened to the Twin Towers, Todd famously said, “let’s roll” and they attacked the terrorists on board the flight that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

As we all know, the war in Afghanistan was designed and prosecuted to mitigate terrorism at its source.  Many brave Americans died or were wounded, and we are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

America’s disastrous withdrawal just days ago—and the leaving behind of Americans and Afghan allies—makes America less safe, requiring more vigilance than ever.


Twenty years ago, our democracy was attacked and thousands of innocent lives were lost. Lives of friends, family, neighbors, and most importantly fellow Americans.

Continuing to come together, we not only honor them and remember the incredible bravery and sacrifice of our first responders, but we keep the collective memory of that day alive, passing it on to those among us too young to have lived it.

Standing together as one in defense of our nation and our shared American values gives us strength. And together, we remember and never forget.


“For so many of us, it is difficult to believe it’s been 20 years since that fateful Tuesday morning in September, which changed our world forever and cost us so many loved ones.

“We all remember where we were that day. As a young Naval Officer, I was stationed at the US Atlantic Fleet Headquarters in Norfolk, VA. I’ll never forget the juxtaposition of a perfect fall day, beautiful blue skies, a crisp feeling in the air and the absolute horror of the attack as I manned my post in the headquarters. Amidst the chaos, with the Pentagon under attack and so much uncertain information flowing, our hours and days following the attacks were dominated by our coordination of the military response, scrambling jets and mobilizing forces to be on high alert.

“As we’d come to find out, 749 New Jerseyans died on 9/11, more than 90 of them residing in what is now the 11th Congressional District. As we do every year, we honor their lives by coming together as a community in each town across the district and continuing to keep their memories alive. We promised to never forget, and we keep that promise.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders from New York, New Jersey, and those who flooded in from all over the country to save lives and search for our loved ones in the rubble. Far too many of them lost their own lives as a result. And to this day, too many are still grappling with the health effects they incurred from their time on the pile. I’ve been so proud to be part of the fight, working for them to help make the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund permanent. Our continued support for them is central to our efforts to never forget.

“As we gather at services, memorials, and events on this anniversary, it’s heartening to be able to be together once again after the year and a half we’ve had. I look forward to joining you all in towns throughout the district to remember, grieve, and honor our families, friends, and neighbors today.”


September 11, 2001 was an unspeakable tragedy in our nation’s history. However, the aftermath of those attacks provided our nation a lesson we must hold close to our hearts and in front of our minds.

In the moments following the attacks, we witnessed the heroic bravery and courage of our first responders, along with many civilians, putting their lives on the line to help their fellow Americans.

In the days and weeks to follow, families across our nation displayed a level of resiliency and patriotism the likes of which we’ve rarely seen. It didn’t matter who we voted for – we were Americans – and during those dark days we stood together as a united nation.

And in the years following the attacks, the heroic men and women of our armed services took the fight to our enemy to serve justice and to ensure no such attack will happen again.

America changed forever that day. We must never forget the heroes, victims, and valuable lessons of September 11, 2001.


Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most impactful and solemn days in America’s history. On September 11, 2001 we learned how resilient we can be as a nation, how many heroes here and across the nation that will step up in times of crisis, and how remembrance is the key to healing.

“We remember the over 700 souls from New Jersey lost that day and the families who still mourn.  We remember the actions of the helpers who came to search for and save lives. We may never forget the sorrow but we will always salute those who answered the call and honor the memories of the ones who did not return home.


On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we honor the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans lost on that tragic day. And, we remember how – with faith, endurance, and love – we found the light as one nation and emerged from the darkness stronger than ever.


Today marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the most tragic and traumatic days in our history. The wounds may never be fully healed for the families, coworkers and friends of those whose lives were lost, but they will be forever remembered for their courage and sacrifice in the face of fatal danger.
The firefighters, police officers, first responders, military members and civilians who gave their lives became an inspiration to us all. They serve as a constant reminder of the resilience of our country, our fortitude as Americans and our strength when we are unified.
The terrible loss of the service members in Kabul is a tragic reminder of the courage and sacrifice that continues to this day. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others and to protect the ideals of freedom.

Our response to 9-11 and the continued service over two decades are examples of what is great about America and our limitless potential when we are united. Our nation has always been at its best when we stand together, as we did in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.


Even after all this time, I’m sure you still remember where you were and how you felt seeing the TV coverage and reporting on 9/11. We all felt the fear, the anger, and the sense that this couldn’t possibly be happening.

While we remember the lives lost and the way we all felt 20 years ago today, let’s also remember the way our country came together to heal. As we take on these newest challenges facing our nation, I find it encouraging to know the capacity for Americans to heal, to work together, and to commit ourselves to a common purpose.

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