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RALEIGH, NC — Cal Cunningham, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, released the following statement on the anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Today marks 19 years since the September 11 attacks.
Like many of you, I will never forget the collective grief of that day and the days that followed: the horror and heartbreak, the sorrow for all those we lost and the loved ones they left behind.
I will also never forget the resilience the American people demonstrated in the aftermath of that unimaginable tragedy. In its wake, we took to heart the biblical admonition to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers — the idea that it is our shared obligation to care for one another, even when it’s difficult or when it requires personal sacrifice.
And as we came together 19 years ago, many answered calls to serve — service that has taken many forms.
I certainly heard the call. My wife Elizabeth was pregnant with our daughter Caroline, and we were excited about our growing family. But after the events of 9/11, we feared for the world she would be born into — and we knew we had to do our part.
A few weeks after the planes hit the World Trade Center, I applied for a direct commission in the U.S. Army Reserve and ultimately served three active duty tours, including overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Really, my whole family served three tours. When Soldiers serve, their families serve, too.
I still serve in the Reserves to this day. Like the flag draped over our smoldering Pentagon, the American flag on my shoulder remains a constant reminder: we can never forget.
Others answered that call in different ways — through works of faith, service in their own communities, and education, to name a few. Many are still answering that call, compelled by a love of country and a commitment to one another to take care of each other however we can.
So as we reflect today, I am thinking of all those who serve in uniform with me. I’m thinking of those who are overseas, making difficult sacrifices to protect our country. I’m thinking of their families here at home, who are serving and sacrificing as well. I’m thinking of those we lost on 9/11— including a friend from UNC — and the courage of the first responders who put their lives on the line to save others.
In a moment that reshaped our lives, we were brought together by our shared humanity, reminded that there is far more that unites us than divides us. And it is that same spirit that must drive us forward.