Sen. Tom Cotton: After 9/11 Americans Were Unified and Optimistic About the Future

Tom Cotton
Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) contrasted American unity following the Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with contemporary disunity, offering his remarks on Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.

Marlow said, “After 9/11, we were all unified. We were all together. We were all standing as one — now, not so much. Could you compare/contrast that, and is there anything that we can learn from 9/11 and maybe start drafting off of today?”

Cotton replied, “It is a notable contrast — that for the days and months after 9/11, we were fairly unified as a nation. Even our political leaders — who have severe differences of opinion when it came to the direction of the country — were relatively unified. You could look at public opinion polls, even though we had just lost 3,000 Americans in the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor … Americans felt more confidence and more optimistic about the future of their country than they had at any time previously in my lifetime.”

“I think that’s unfortunately been lacking,” lamented Cotton. “No one in America is responsible for the pandemic we face. Plenty of leaders — Democrat and Republican alike — had missteps in it. We try to improve those to correct conditions.” The Chinese Communist Party is “ultimately responsible” for the coronavirus outbreak, he added.


Cotton, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, reflected on his decision to enlist in the military after the events of 9/11 while he was studying at Harvard Law School.

“Like so many Americans, my life took a big turn on 9/11,” recalled Cotton. “I remember on the morning of 9/11, I was in law school sitting in evidence class. … I know it may be hard for your younger listeners to understand that back then — the days before the flood — we didn’t have Wi-Fi, and we didn’t have smartphones with text messages and social media. For the first hour or so, we didn’t know anything that happened.”

After leaving his class on the morning of 9/11, Cotton remembered seeing dozens of students “with shocked looks on their faces.” He then realized “America was under attack.” He stated, “I was going to go and be a lawyer, but from that day forward, I resolved that I wanted to serve in our military and go overseas to defend America and defend our freedom.”

Cotton remarked, “For the next month [after 9/11], the Old Guard took off its ceremonial uniforms and put on its combat fatigues, and they were in the Pentagon trying to recover survivors and then recover remains, and providing security for those other first responders there, so they have been on the front lines of 9/11 from the very beginning moments of it.”

As part of his military career, Cotton served with the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, a unit focused on memorial and ceremonial services. Part of its mission is guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. After 9/11, the Old Guard was mobilized to help at the Pentagon. Sen. Cotton wrote a book on the Old Guard, titled Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery.

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