By Mike Kruzman /

8th District Congresspersons' past and present shared memories of the September 11th attacks and the following war on terror at a special event, Thursday.

Democrat Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin took part in a panel discussion with former Congressman Mike Rogers, a Republican, at Oakland University’s Center for Civic Engagement. Rogers joined from Washington D.C. over Zoom. The two exchanged their experiences of the 9/11 attacks, with Rogers being a then-freshman Congressman in Washington D.C.and Slotkin being a second day graduate student at Columbia University in New York City. Both Representatives made notions towards how united the country had become following the attacks unlike in recent years.

Much of the time was spent on the ensuing war on terror and recent events in Afghanistan. While Taliban leaders continue to say that they have changed want to become a part of the world stage, both Slotkin and Rogers expressed skepticism. Neither Representative expressed a belief that we were done in Afghanistan, but this is where some nuance came to the surface.

Slotkin said that in talking with today’s youth, older generations should understand that the younger ones have different points of view. She said, “They don’t see the world the in the way that maybe I see the world. They are more pessimistic about America’s role in the world. They were not around on 9/11 and see us getting engaged in long wars that are hard to get out of, mobilizing others. There is a different approach from the next generation. And while I may not agree, you know, as a cold war kid that believes in a strong role for the United States in the world, I think that we have to at least acknowledge that the American public felt like this war had gone on for a long time and they don’t want their sons and daughters being sent there.” That said, Slotkin said she believes there will be more military action, she just hopes it isn’t a long ground war.

She expressed some optimism for President Biden’s “Over the Horizon” strategy that Rogers was more critical of. Rogers felt that there was benefit for keeping troops in the landlocked country and that we gave up too much by withdrawing. Rogers said he never looked at Afghanistan as a “Forever War,” but instead as “Enduring Peace.” He pointed to American troops being stationed in South Korea helping against Chinese aggression and troops stationed in Germany being a counterweight to the Russians. He added that now on the anniversary of 9/11, the Taliban will be in the former U.S. embassy “drinking tea and looking at our files,” so to speak.

Slotkin countered that the difference with stationing troops in Afghanistan is that American troops aren’t being fired at in South Korea and Germany.

Rogers and Slotkin, still, both called America’s time in Afghanistan a success as it allowed the U.S. to bolster our homeland defenses and prevent further terrorist attacks.

In closing, the two were unified in their hope to getting back some of the unity the country had in the fall of 2001. Rogers said we have lost the ability to stand in the same room and discuss our differences. He spoke to the younger generation, wanting them to know that they are standing on the shoulders of giants and that we need to stop tearing each other down. Slotkin acknowledged that we all won’t agree on every matter, but when we start looking at fellow Americans as an enemy, we have a problem. She said we are a far distance from the empathy and spirit we felt after 9/11, and if we could figure out a way to harness it and be decent, it’d go a long away.