20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Attacks

SEPTEMBER 11, 2021

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we honor the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children we lost in New York City, Arlington, and Shanksville on that horrific day.

Every one of those individuals was someone’s child, someone’s friend. And the loss of every single one sent ripples radiating outward to families, communities, and entire nations.

For so many Americans – regardless of whether we lost someone we knew or where we were on 9/11 – the attack felt personal. It still does.

As we saw in the aftermath of the attacks, our allies’ and partners’ commitment to us, and ours to them, is a sacred bond. Around the world, people congregated outside American embassies and consulates to pray, sing, and cry. They left handwritten notes, flowers, candles, drawings, and mementos.

As much as any other event in our lifetimes, 9/11 shaped the trajectory of our nation and how we engage in the world.

It motivated an entire generation to pursue lives of service.

Some became journalists, lawyers, or human rights defenders.

Others volunteered for the military, and hundreds of thousands went on to serve in Afghanistan. 2,641 service members gave their lives in that conflict, including 13 men and women who were killed in a terrorist attack a few weeks ago as we brought that war to an end. More than 20,000 of those service members were injured, and many more carry invisible wounds from that time. We’re humbled by their sacrifices.

September 11th also inspired a generation of people to join the Foreign Service – people who joined our ranks knowing how hard the work would be, how much we were up against, and how vital it was that they succeed. They threw themselves into the challenge with total commitment. Many of them still serve.

Cherished members of that community gave their lives to this effort, including our colleagues killed in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012.

On this day of all days, we recommit ourselves to that ongoing effort, and remember the awesome opportunity and responsibility that comes with representing America in the world.