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The Renewed Importance of ‘Never Forget’

Image courtesy of Catholic University Young Americans for Freedom 

By Catriona Fee

More than half of Catholic University’s undergraduate students were born prior to September 11th, 2001, including me. Twenty years after the horrific attacks on our nation that fateful day, the weight of the phrase “never forget” is measured by our actions to preserve the memory of each of the 2,977 innocent lives taken. 

There is a great deal of disagreement concerning American involvement in Afghanistan, from how long we were there to how operations were conducted to the decision to remove all troops from the country. One line I repeatedly hear from all areas of the political spectrum is, “for twenty years in Afghanistan, what did we get?” 

Ultimately, the sacrifice of our brave men and women deployed to Afghanistan and the War on Terror as a whole had one undisputed result: no more attacks like 9/11, and for that, we are forever indebted to them.

In addition to this, our troop presence allowed for dramatic levels of freedom and respect for basic human rights for the first time in decades. Women and girls were able to freely pursue an education, from primary school to post-graduate degrees. They were able to participate in government, serve in the country’s military, and vote. Christians were free to worship and practice their faith without fear of persecution. 

As Catholics, we should not ignore the human rights implications for our hasty and deeply failed exit from Afghanistan. The Taliban will quickly reverse all of the human rights gains that the country has made in the past twenty years by suppressing women, brutally persecuting Christians, and murdering all those who assisted American forces. Christians are fleeing to the mountains of Afghanistan, knowing that they may face execution if the Taliban finds them. Surrounded by countries unfriendly to Christian refugees, their only chance at survival would be an extraction effort led by the United States or its allies. At the time that I am writing this, there is no such effort in progress. 

Every anniversary of September 11th words of remembrance are tossed around by our leaders, but their actions do not reflect that they took the words “never forget” to heart. The clearest example of this is how decision-makers right here in Washington orchestrated a humiliating, and deeply disturbing, withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. Our retreat left the country in the prime environment to become a haven for terrorism once more, so that Afghanistan is now more of a threat to the US than it was in 2001. The Taliban and their affiliates are now outfitted with the latest equipment and technologies of the US military and they will use these resources to inflict terror on the people of Afghanistan, surrounding countries, and eventually, the United States. 

On this anniversary of September 11th, we should recall the magnitude of the attacks, and why over 800,000 American servicemen and women were deployed to Afghanistan to protect our nation from such an attack ever occurring again. Their efforts and their sacrifice should also be remembered, as their service led to the protection of the United States for the past twenty years. 

Recent events show us that it has never been more important to remember the innocent lives lost on 9/11 and the importance of preventing such a tragedy from ever occurring again. This September 11th, will you remember the 2,977 lives lost that day? Will you remember the sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers to protect our safety here at home?

One way you can Never Forget is by participating in Young Americans for Freedom’s 9/11: Never Forget Project. On Saturday morning, the club will be planting 2,977 American flags on the Pryz lawn, in memory of each innocent life that was taken in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93. This is a powerful way to remember the magnitude of the attacks and the importance of ensuring that such an attack never happens again. 

The 9/11: Never Forget Project is an official project of the Young Americans for Freedom’s parent organization, the Young America’s Foundation. The project, originally launched in 2003, has led to students planting more than 12 million flags on campuses across the nation. 20 years later, hundreds of YAF chapters just like ours will participate in the project, to ensure that our generation, and our country, will never forget.

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