Some days forever echo in our memory; some days come to define entire generations. There are some days for which time stands still, for which the past is never dead, and not even past.
September 11th is such a day.
The passage of time separates us from the raw emotion of the event; the elapsing years bind up the wounds. But history is a pattern of timeless moments, so still we remember. We must remember. We will always remember.
Eleven years ago today, we watched in shock as the Twin Towers crumbled and a dark veil of dust descended upon Manhattan. The hole in the New York City skyline mirrored the raw hole in our nation's soul.
We watched, shaken, as our enemies brought war to us. As a nation, we dropped to our knees that day. For a few fleeting moments, all of our differences vanished as we came together in prayer and in mourning.
And then, as a nation, we got off our knees and set to work, steeled in our resolve. Because that's the story of America. We stand tall.
We are a changed nation because of September 11th. But I am the proudest of the ways in which we haven't changed. As a nation and a people, we did not yield, we did not cower, and we did not give up on what makes America great -- nor what makes her good.
In that dark hour, America's goodness shown through, "a beam in darkness: let it grow." The dying sun gave way to the flickering light of untold memorial candles, illuminating the soul of a nation.
On that crisp autumn morning eleven years ago, we were reminded in sorrow of the grave threats posed to our nation, and we took great comfort in the assurance that the men and women of our military know no equal, and that, in dedication, they have no peer.
Since that day, we have required much of them. Many have sacrificed -- far too many have given their lives -- in service to country, and today, it is fitting that we remember them along with those who lost their lives in the attacks eleven years ago.
We owe it to their memory to remain true to the promise of America, to continue to stand for the principles that set us apart as that shining city on a hill-to make liberty our byword. We don't always live up to this obligation, as individuals or a nation, but I hope that as we reflect upon this tragic anniversary, we will make this our pledge in solemn tribute: that we will stand fast in liberty. There can be no more enduring memorial.
Mark D. Obenshain
Virginia State Senator