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A day of remembrance for Americans

If you are reading this column, you probably don't need to be reminded about what happened on this day eight years ago. You do not need to be told to rekindle your inner patriot - that fire was lit inside you long ago. But look around you. An entire generation getting on the school bus this morning does not remember the pain of this day.

Nineteen hijackers flew two commercial jets into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane into a field in Shanksville, Pa., after passengers on that plane tried to stop the hijackers. Rather than crumbling as these terrorists so desperately wanted, Americans came together like never before to support the families of the fallen - each of us knowing full well that it could have happened to one of our own. Life and country became precious again.

We often say, "We all lost something on Sept. 11, 2001 - families, friends, loved ones, and fellow Americans." Without giving pause, we continue, "What we did not lose, however, was our faith and courage." It is ingrained in us: Terrorism will always fail just as it failed on that day. No one can take away our faith in America, nor can anyone remove the freedom for which it stands.

I'm asking you to not only remember today but also to pass the memory of this day along to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Close to 1,300 of you attended my town hall meeting last week and took home with you more than 1,000 copies of the United States Constitution. I learned that many of you took these and other educational pamphlets home with the intention of sharing them with your children and grandchildren. Just as we use our founding documents as tools to teach, likewise we should use this day to teach and instill the importance behind it in the next generation.

The youngest victim of the Sept. 11 attacks was a 2-year-old boy who was a passenger on Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Last week, I met with a Boy Scout who is not much older than the little boy on that plane would have been had he lived. This Boy Scout sitting in my office asked me what the most important role is as a young American. I told him that his duty, and that of all other young people in this country, is to learn.

Likewise, our role is to teach them. There are as many lessons to be learned from the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, as there are Americans. There are large lessons about heroism and sacrifice and there are smaller lessons about remembering to say "I love you" to those closest to you. My greatest wish today is that those of us who experienced that grim day will be inspired on this day of remembrance to share the lessons that we have learned with a new generation.

As we pray for the fallen, for the families who have suffered, and for the heroes who gave everything to help their fellow countrymen, let us never forget the stories of Sept. 11, 2001, and the lessons that they hold for us all - individually and as a nation.

Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, has served in the House of Representatives since 1992.