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Hello readers,

On this day 20 years ago, it seems everyone has a story about where they were when they first heard the news. Here’s mine, in brief: I was teaching at an elementary school in north central Tennessee (Clarksville). My job on this day was to be in the gymnasium, for it was picture day for our school. I was to help the little ones get seated on the stool, arrange their hair if needed, make sure they sat up straight, and smiled.

As the morning went on, a teacher friend of mine came in to see me with the first grim news about the first tower in New York City being hit by a plane. Initially, some announcers thought it might be a mechanical error. Later, my friend came back in the gym, giving me more disastrous news: the second tower had been hit, and both towers were in flames, with thousands trapped inside. Later on, she brought me the news about flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania, and the attack on the Pentagon.

All this time, I was not to let any of the little ones know what was going on. The most challenging day of my teaching career was this day: to act cheerful, to tell them “Smile!” and send them back to their classroom as if there was nothing wrong.

The heroes of that tragedy have now been joined by the 11 Marines, 1 Navy soldier and 1 Army corpsman, who, on August 26, 2021, were killed by an attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. They have names like Kareem, Rylee, Nicole, Jared, David, Hunter, Maxton, Taylor, Daegan, Ryan, Humberto, Johanny and Dylan. They were all in the prime of their lives, doing what they wanted to do: serving their country.

Let their sacrifices not be in vain (non-English readers: that means “uselessly” or “without a purpose”). Honor the memory of these young, brave men and women in uniform. Find a way, or 13 ways, to honor these who gave the last full measure of devotion to their flag and country.

And God bless the USA and protect us from those whose purpose is to destroy our country, take away our freedoms and our liberties, and put us in harm’s way. Some of those are in the White House.

Until next week, dear readers.