This morning, like most mornings, I looked at a picture outside of my office that was taken on Sept. 11, 2001. The picture shows doctors, nurses, administrators and other caregivers standing outside the emergency department of my local community hospital in Arlington, Va., waiting to treat victims of the attack at the Pentagon. 

Today marks the 19th anniversary of that fateful day when hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania received the call to prepare for victims of terrorist attacks. Nurses, doctors, emergency workers and others worked side-by-side, relying on teamwork and training to assist those who needed help.

We honor everyone who lost their lives on that day. We also recognize our first responders, hospital and health system heroes, and so many others who risked their own safety to save so many lives. We Must Never Forget.

Almost two decades later, we face a very different kind of threat to our health and welfare … one rooted in biology, not ideology. The death toll from COVID-19 is much higher, and our “enemy” this time is being pursued by scientists.

Still, one thing hasn’t changed: We rely on the bravery, skill, teamwork and compassion of our front-line caregivers more than ever. As in 2001 — and countless times before and after — our hospitals and health systems are standing tall in the face of disaster, no matter where the threat comes from.

As always, our health care workforce arrives each day ready to care … putting in grueling hours, comforting patients and families, and finding the inner strength to battle the pandemic of a lifetime.

We need to stand tall for them, as well. September is National Preparedness Month, and we are counting on Congress and the Administration to do the right thing for the American people and pass another COVID-19 relief bill that provides sufficient funding for hospitals and health care workers to protect their communities and continue the fight against the virus.

Today, One World Trade Center — also called the Freedom Tower — sits on part of the original site of the Twin Towers. It’s the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and a symbol of our nation’s determination that terrorism would not have the last word.

COVID-19 won’t have the last word either. And that’s because of the incredible people who work so hard to protect and preserve lives and advance health every single day. They deserve our help and support, and we cannot let them down.

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