Here are a few words from Delegate Scott Lingamfelter on 9/11/2001.
On September 11th, 2001, I recall, just as you do, where I was and what I was doing. Just 90 days earlier, I had retired from a 28-year career in the US Army. I remember when I woke up that morning what a beautiful day it was. We were greeted by a bright sunny sky. The air was crisp and clean. I had just come off a successful primary where I had won the nomination to run as the GOP candidate for the House of Delegates that November. Life was good.
My close friend and campaign manager, Bob FitzSimmonds and I hopped in the car and headed for Pentagon City to meet with my campaign general consultant to map strategies. As we rode in, Bob and I just couldn’t get over how pretty it was. Striking.
When we arrived at the hotel where my GC was teaching a course to other would-be candidates, Bob and I sat down for a light breakfast. And as we gazed at the TV in the restaurant, like millions of fellow Americans, the news switched to a “breaking story” and we could not believe our eyes. In front of us, the World Trade Center was being assaulted, not once but twice. 8:46, the first attack. 9:03, the second attack. And then, minutes later, before our eyes, the Pentagon, my second home just weeks before, was attacked at 9:37. Later we would learn of the crash in a lonely field in Pennsylvania and the brave Americans who intervened as the exceptional people they were. Self-sacrifice. Duty first. Taking a stand.
We’ve all had lots of time to reflect on this national tragedy. I sure have. It’s easy to slip into a discourse about the war on terror or debates on our national policy that followed these attacks and is even now playing out in Afghanistan by our brave men and women there. All of us want it to end. But the thing that strikes me about America is how we are a people who, despite the slings and arrows that are launched our way, always find a way to recover and be greater for it. We are blessed with an indomitable spirit and we are brave people who are willing to take a stand for freedom and justice.
Today, we face so many challenges abroad and at home. 23 million of us are jobless. Our debt is out of control, now topping $16 trillion. Our military is worn and a bit weary. And our government has grown far beyond what any of us want. Like many of you, I worry a lot about our future. But like many others, I take heart in my memory of what kind of people we were when we put our heads on our pillows the evening of September 11th, 2001: united, resolved, confident in our ability to get through this thing. And yes, tearfully grateful for the best among us, like those who in their final minutes rose to the task, Americans, free, brave, and yes, willing to die so others might live.
That’s my America, yours too. When I think about 9-11, I take hope, the right kind of hope. Not a campaign slogan but a fundamental belief in our people. Our people blessed and guided by a loving God are what make America so exceptional, not our government. And if we remember this, we will remember the first fruits of our founding: a people blessed, yearning to be free, and willing to do whatever it takes.
God bless those who died on 9-11-01 and those who have died since. Let us pray for a lasting peace and strive onward to be the exceptional people we are called to be.