9/11 Twenty Years On: A Sister Speaks

I have spent the last 20 years remembering my brother and the 2,977 people who were brutally murdered in an act of war carried out by Sunni extremists—jihadist terrorists who seek to impose their cruel form of Sharia law on all the world.

This was a wake-up call for most Americans. And some five million of them answered that call. They left their jobs, they interrupted their college studies, and they said goodbye to their families to defend and protect their country under the colors of their flag. They went to war.

Some of those who served in combat were only children on 9/11 and some were the children of those brave and valiant firefighters and cops who died in the Twin Towers. These people have been my inspiration. They and their families restored my hope, and affirmed my belief in the goodness of my fellow human beings. I will never forget them, because they never forgot 9/11 and my brother, his passengers and crew, and all those who died that terrible day.

This year, this Saturday, as I stand at the Pentagon just a few yards away from where American flight 77 struck the building, I will be remembering the bravehearts of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and all the other post-9/11 military operations where they were sent, not to engage in a “forever war” but to secure “forever peace“—the phrase a British MP, NATO ally, and Afghanistan combat veteran used so effectively in a speech to his peers in Parliament.

This anniversary, another American president will address the nation. But it will be a bitter day. Because this is a president who has betrayed his troops and his country.

For the first time in 20 years I believe we are in greater danger than we were before 9/11. The evil men who harbored Osama bin Laden and gave safe passage to terrorists to train for their murderous attacks have now been installed as the ruling government of this “New Taliban” nation. The list of cabinet ministers is a Who’s Who of global terrorists, including:

  • Sirajuddin Haqqani—still wanted by the FBI, which is offering $10 million for information leading to his capture.
  • Mullah Hassam Akhund—previously the foreign minister who harbored bin Laden.
  • Mullah Mohammad Yacoob—the son of Mullah Omar, who founded the Taliban.
  • Four of the five Taliban senior leaders who were released from Gitmo and traded for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

We have lost so much since this defeat was engineered by the White House and approved at the highest levels of the Defense Department.

In view of all these devastating events, this Saturday will mark for me the first day in the next fight, to restore our country’s honor and, to paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, teach our children and grandchildren that liberty and justice aren’t something we inherit. They don’t exist in our DNA. They must be taught, practiced, cherished, affirmatively chosen, and defended.

We have to win this. We have no other choice. I take inspiration from the veterans who are coordinating the rescue of U.S. citizens, Afghan war partners, and our NATO allies—those who the commander-in-chief shamelessly deserted in a country now ruled by global terrorists.

These Americans who have rejected dishonor and have rushed in at great risk to themselves have delivered me from despair and shown us all the way.

About Debra Burlingame

Debra Burlingame, a former attorney, is a board member of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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