The Day The Earth Stood Still

On this day, nineteen years ago, the earth stood still as we watched in disbelief, unable to comprehend the possibility that an attack of this magnitude was possible in our country. The events of 9/11 unleashed a fear and vulnerability that many Americans had never felt before; that many children had never seen in their parents or guardians.

I remember the questions our kids asked us that day — they could sense the worry in our voices and the disruption of routine.

In the wake of unthinkable tragedy, we saw the resolve of the human spirit and the sheer heroism of ordinary people. From New York to Pennsylvania and inside the Pentagon, we witnessed people who gave so much of themselves to save the lives of their co-workers and complete strangers. As office workers funneled out of buildings and poured onto the streets of one of our largest cities, hundreds of people ran into them: our first responders. 1,542 of those first responders call Pennsylvania home.

In 2019, I was proud to join my colleagues in voting to permanently authorize and fully fund the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to support survivors and family members who were injured or killed in these attacks, and the rescue efforts that followed.

Remembering this day in the midst of the challenges our country is facing now weighs heavily on all of us. What I know for certain is that the resilience of the American spirit is what made it possible for our country to come together, to grieve, console, and rebuild following this tragedy — the same spirit we continue to see in our communities now.

We are reminded every day of our responsibility to safeguard the world that we pass onto the next generation. It’s the unwritten promise of America and our constant call to action. What will we do today, and the next day, to make our communities stronger, safer, more inclusive?

As we reflect on this day, I hope we can all pause for a moment of thanks — thanks for the liberties we enjoy, the essential workers and first responders who keep us safe, and the communities and families that support all of us.

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Mary Gay Scanlon

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.