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Senator Lankford Marks the Anniversary of 9/11

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s floor speech.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor to remember the September 11, 2001, attacks on our nation and to honor the nearly 3,000 lives lost, including seven Oklahomans. In our nation’s mobilized response to global terrorism since that fateful day, 51 Oklahomans have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan, and 72 Oklahomans have lost their lives in Iraq. Today, Lankford is wearing a tie given to him by Gold Star wife, Jane Horton, whose husband, Oklahoma Army National Guardsman SPC Christopher Horton, lost his life in Afghanistan in the war on terror.


Eighteen years ago today, my office in Oklahoma City, a fellow staff member poked her head into the office and said to me, ‘There is a freak accident that’s happened in New York City. A plane flew into the World Trade Center.’ She went down the hallway and pulled in a rolling cart—the younger generation will have no idea what that is—a rolling cart with a TV on top of it. We plugged it in and watched it as the second plane flew in and both of us stood there silently thinking, ‘That’s no accident. That’s murder on a massive scale and terror like I’d never witnessed with my own eyes.’

What I didn’t know was at that moment how many thousands of lives would be affected and how much our nation would be changed. That morning 18 years ago, seven Oklahomans died. But our nation was forever changed.

Common terms we think about today like TSA or terror watch list or Department of Homeland Security or Global Entry or body scanners or the PATRIOT Act—those didn’t exist on September 10, 2001. They’ve all come since then.

As our nation learns how to do more security, learns how to engage, and has learned a painful lesson then what people think in an isolated village, in a remote country, what they think matters to us. Because what they may carry out, if left alone and ignored, could kill our family members and our fellow Americans.

Almost 3,000 Americans died that day. But since that time period, we have pushed back—not against the people of Afghanistan or the people of Iraq, not against Muslims or of faith—against a specific ideology that intensely hates the freedom of America and who intentionally plans to kill Americans they’ve never met.

We learned a new ideology as a nation that day that we have not only to take it seriously, but that we must not wait until they carry out a fight. If they’re planning it, if they’re preparing it, if they have the capability, we should assume they’re actually going to do it.

Since that time period, American men and women have taken the fight to people who want to come and kill more Americans. But it’s also been at a great cost of American blood and treasure. Four thousand four hundred and thirty-two Americans have died in Iraq. Two thousand three hundred and fifty-three Americans have died in Afghanistan. Fifty-one of those are my fellow Oklahomans in Afghanistan, 72 of those, my fellow Oklahomans in Iraq.

Today I pulled out of my closet a specific tie that I rarely wear, but it was a tie given to me by a Gold Star wife who never, ever wanted to be a Gold Star wife. She just wanted to be the wife of Chris Horton, who she intensely loved, who went to Afghanistan to serve his country in the Oklahoma National Guard, and died for our freedom. And two years later, she handed me this tie and said, ‘He hated wearing ties, but you have to wear them all the time. Just remember him.’

We as Americans will not forget, and we have not forgotten. There are flags out all over America today just to remember. There are moms and dads that really hugged their kids tight this morning before they left for school, and the kids didn’t even know why. They just did. And there are places that are gathering to be able to pray for peace because, as a nation, we are a nation of peace. And we have no desire for war. In fact, we detest the pain and penalty and blood and loss of war. And we have no desire to be at war across the world. But it came to us, and we look forward to the day when the guns are silent again. And this finally concludes, and a time of peace can be restored again.

Today, though, we’re just a nation remembering and praying for that time of peace that will come. And telling families, Gold Star families, families that have sent their loved ones around the world to places they had never seen before, we have not forgotten, and we are grateful that we serve together as a nation. With that, I yield back.