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On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was sitting in religion class as I began my sophomore year at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. I had just returned to the United States after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seoul, South Korea.
Just one day prior, my sister had begun working as a flight attendant at Washington Dulles Airport, the same airport from which American Airlines Flight 77—the flight that struck the Pentagon—departed. Fortunately, she flew on a different flight to Chicago, but confusion and fear defined the day for me, my family, and every American.
My story on September 11th is relatively unremarkable. What is remarkable, however, is that Americans under the age of 20 have not had to relive such a catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil.
The men and women who committed their lives to defending our nation in the War on Terror made that possible. Our servicemembers and the first responders who ran to the rescue that day are the people who I choose to remember on the 20th anniversary of September 11th.
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I also choose to use my role in Congress to support families who have served our nation—including Gold Star Wife Jennie Taylor and her children in Ogden, Utah—and to cosponsor legislation that will establish a monument immortalizing those who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror.
In the days and weeks that followed September 11th, we saw shocking images of individuals around the world celebrating Americans’ deaths. Having just returned from overseas, I was inspired to help build cultural bridges and enter government service. Moved by the resolve of the American people in response to 9/11, I began a career in diplomacy and intelligence that gave me opportunities to engage both domestically and abroad.
Today, that same sense of purpose that impacted so many of us has driven me to advocate on behalf of Utah’s First District in Congress. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve our amazing communities, from representing Hill Air Force Base on the House Armed Services Committee to helping veterans navigate the federal bureaucracy to answering any and all questions at public townhalls. But the best part of my job is highlighting the wonderful people who are doing tremendous work in Utah’s First District and across the country.
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Jennie Taylor, a constituent and friend, has used her voice to honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to serve our nation. In 2018, Jennie’s husband, Army Major Brent Taylor, was killed in action in Afghanistan during his fourth deployment to the Middle East while training an Afghan Army commando battalion in Kabul. When he passed away, he was also serving his second term as mayor of North Ogden, Utah.
Jennie has taken her tragedy and turned it into a calling. She has established the Major Brent Taylor Foundation and serves as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, all while raising seven children.
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This year, Jennie and the Brent Taylor Foundation are helping Utahns remember September 11th by hosting the WEber Remembers 9/11 Event at the Weber County Fairgrounds in Utah. From September 9th through 11th, attendees will visit an interactive museum and have opportunities to speak with Utahns in uniform who remind our community of the importance and power of public service.
As we remember the tragedies of 9/11 and the servicemembers who lost their lives defending our freedom in the Middle East, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been directly impacted by the hardships that accompany sacrificial public service.
For me, that means remembering heroes like Brent Taylor and Utahan Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover who—like Brent Taylor—just lost his life in Kabul, Afghanistan while helping U.S. citizens and Afghans-at-risk flee the Taliban.
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I am in awe of America’s many servicemembers and veterans who have put their lives at risk for our security and freedoms, and I am forever thankful for their sacrifices.
This September 11th, please join me in honoring those in our community who have humbled themselves to live in service to those around them.