Twenty years ago, the world stood still as our nation experienced the deadliest terrorist attack on our own soil. On this somber anniversary of September 11, 2001, we remember the nearly three thousand innocent bystanders and first responders who lost their lives due to the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 and honor those whose lives were forever changed on this fatal day.

This was certainly the worst day of my adult life as I watched these events unfold from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building across the street from the White House. From this building, I watched in horror as White House staff and personnel, several of whom I knew, ran for their lives after we received news that a fourth plane was flying toward Washington, D.C. Certainly, if it were not for the bravery and heroism of the Flight 93 passengers who selflessly took on these terrorists to divert another attack, countless more lives would have been lost.

We will never forget this day or the assailants that brought this tragedy to our nation. From Afghanistan, Al Qaeda plotted and initiated the September 11 attacks, where today we watch this country fall back into the hands of an organization that hosted and sheltered Osama bin Laden. For the past 20 years, we have made sure Afghanistan never became another launching pad for another terrorist attack. Unfortunately, this anniversary will be marked by a weaponized Taliban and re-emerging ISIS.

As we learned from the deadly attack at the Kabul airport that took the lives of 13 American service members, the Taliban cannot be trusted for our own safety or to fulfill their commitments to ensure safe travel. This organization has remained unchanged in their nature and the disastrous withdraw of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will, without a doubt, make the United States more vulnerable to those who wish us harm. It is imperative for the safety of our nation that we continue to keep a close eye on this evil regime and make certain they do not take our withdraw as an opportunity for another attack.

While this is undoubtedly a disheartening anniversary of our country’s most brutal terrorist attack, I am reminded of the kindness and courage that we saw that day. Men and women, strangers and friends, all answered the call to serve and help one another. Whether it was rescuing someone from the rubble or donating blood, people acted selflessly in tragedy and that is something that truly embodies the American spirit.

Indeed, our country will forever mourn those who lost their lives 20 years ago and solemnly offer our prayers for those who have suffered. We also remember those who have made other sacrifices to ensure our security as a nation and honor the brave men and women of our military who have displayed enormous courage, skill and determination throughout the ongoing effort to eliminate terror. The United States always and forever will be the land of the free because it is the home of the brave.