Eighteen years ago, nearly 2,977 innocent people were killed in the deadliest attack on American soil in our nation’s history. The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon remain the deadliest terrorist attacks in the U.S. in history and their repercussions are felt to this day, both at home and abroad. These attacks were conducted with American technology by perpetrators who had been allowed American visas and several of whom received their education through American flight schools. Their motive was a hatred of American power and American values. They were terrorists who longed for a brutal theocracy and loathed American freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, and the beacon of liberty and promise that our country has been since its inception.
There were heroes on that day as well. The firefighters, police officers and first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center and helped evacuate and clear the area even as the buildings began to collapse, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. The passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who prevented a fourth plane crash in Washington D.C. at the cost of their own lives, bringing the plane down in an empty field in Pennsylvania.
The United States is the greatest nation that has ever existed. Representative government was a rarity when our Constitution was first written — now such governments exist around the world. The Industrial Revolution and the spread of Capitalism around the world, both of which were greatly aided by the United States, have continued to raise the global standard of living and make technologies such as air travel, smartphones and other advancements that had once been inconceivable commonplace. In the last 200 years the Western world underwent an unprecedented movement to abolish human enslavement that had persisted for millennia across the globe, driving it out of existence wherever they could. Some 600,000 American lives were lost to help right the wrong of human bondage. The legacy of prosperity and liberty that America has brought about for the world is one her citizens should be justly proud.
Yet there are a troublingly growing number of voices that claim otherwise. More and more people disregard these things and claim that America is not an exceptional society, that those who attacked us were not motivated by hatred for our culture, our freedoms and our values. Some, such as Hasan Piker from the Young Turks, go as far to argue that we brought it upon ourselves, minimizing our virtues and glossing over the pure evil of the motivations and actions of our attackers, reducing this tragedy to “Some people did something,” as current Rep. Ilhan Omar has.
We will never forget why America was attacked and why our country is worth defending. The Stanford College Republicans will do their part to honor the lost by placing an American flag on Meyer Green for each person killed, as part of a national Never Forget campaign conducted by the Young Americans Foundation. We ask that you join us. “Let’s roll.”
— Michael Whittaker ’20, Vice President of the Stanford College Republicans
This op-ed has been corrected to reflect the accurate spelling of Hasan Piker’s name.