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A Shared Sense of Purpose

Twenty years ago, there was a spirit of shared purpose, commitment, and momentary cooperation on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the horrendous events of 9/11.

There was such a profound sense of sorrow for the suffering of so many families — not just those who lost loved ones, but also of others who were traumatized by the events and the impact that it had on our children.

This was a pivotal moment in the minds of everyone who was here on Capitol Hill and around the country.

It was interesting watching people not just on Capitol Hill but around the world as they rallied with us, supporting us in our efforts to track down al Qaeda and hold them accountable. There was a sense of shared purpose united in a war against the perpetrators of these attacks.

Unfortunately, that shared sense of cooperation soon went off the rails, and morphed into a misguided war on terror — the flawed homeland security agency; the Patriot Act; and then the worst foreign policy blunder in American history, the war in Iraq, all of which I opposed. We're still suffering the consequences from those divisions here on Capitol Hill.

I would hope there would be an opportunity to reflect on that initial spirit of shared purpose and commitment on 9/11, not just in terms of keeping America safe from terrorists, but coming together to address the looming threat of the climate crisis — the catastrophic events of which is killing far more people, disrupting far more lives through extreme weather events, and is a threat to our health and everything we hold dear.

I will continue to reflect on those solemn days on Capitol Hill, on that moment of shared purpose and optimism in the face of the threat that we met, and hope that we'll be able to summon that sense of shared purpose for the battle that we face with climate.

In a time of Covid and economic turmoil, the American people need us to be able to have that shared purpose again, uniting against these challenges that threaten our families and our communities.

We know what to do. I hope we can do it.



Posted on September 11, 2021.