Five years ago we saw the face of evil cross our shores as a band of terrorists took control of four planes and used our own technology against us to kill thousands of our fellow citizens. Plotting in secrecy and under the cover of darkness, in caves in the remote hills of Afghanistan, these terrorists planned to kill as many Americans as they could, destroying some carefully selected buildings that, to them, symbolized our nation and our unique way of life. We all remember that day with great clarity and we will never forget where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news – a plane had crashed into one of the
In the moments that followed a nation looked on in horror as we saw the face of bravery and courage under fire as the men and women of
As we watched events continue to unfold in
In the days that followed, the story behind the events became clear. The attack was orchestrated by a terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden. Three planes had hit their targets. The passengers on the fourth, made aware of the fate of the other three planes by friends and loved ones on their cell phones, had launched their own attack on the hijackers and they were able to take control of the plane and stop the hijackers from using it to destroy another landmark and kill more Americans in a crowded city. The brave men and women on that flight had sacrificed their own lives so that others might be spared.
Those are the bare details, a brief outline of some of what happened that day. It was a day that had a great impact on every American – and it hit us all on a deeply personal level. Ask anyone and you will see that we all have our own story, our own recollection of what happened on September 11 and what it meant to us. We aren’t unique in that. The
When it is written, history will make it clear that September 11 was more than an American tragedy. It was the beginning of a global nightmare.
It has now been five years since the day the Towers fell and with the passage of time has come study after study, investigations, and other attempts to make some sense of everything that happened that day. There were failures of some systems to work at their peak efficiency, and there were warnings that, with hindsight, should have been handled differently. The important thing now is not to place blame and point fingers, but to ensure we are fully and adequately protected so we don’t have to experience another September 11.
As I prepared my remarks for this day, I thought about my young grandson, now three years old. He is a wonderful addition to my life and he continues to give me an added perspective to the events I see on the news every night. I know someday he will ask me about that day. When he does, I hope I am able to find the right words to explain to him about the courage and the bravery of all those who worked so hard to try to save the lives of those who were in danger that day. I hope I can help him understand the reasons why our brave service men and women are fighting on the front lines of the war on terror to keep him safe. It won’t be easy for his is a world of peace and innocence and far removed from the hatred that drove the events of that day.
Still, no matter what I tell him, I know he will ask me why these things happen. His Grampa will tell him that this is a world full of so many good things – like his parents who love him so very dearly, and the things he loves to do, like go fishing with his Grampa. Unfortunately, it’s also a world where people preach anger and hatred and try to harm people they don’t even know.
If it’s a hard lesson for us to learn, you can imagine how difficult it will be for a small child. How to talk to our children about September 11 was a problem when it happened, and it will continue to be so as we work to put an end to terrorism around the globe, wherever it exists.
Ultimately, that will be the legacy of September 11. We were cruelly attacked on that day, by a group that underestimated our resolve as a nation and our will as individuals to right the great wrong that had been done to us. Today, five years later, we stand united, still strongly committed to putting an end to the threat of terrorism, wherever it appears. We didn’t start this battle, but our Armed Forces will, once again, put an end to it.
Five years ago the world stood still, and it was changed forever. The ripples begun on September 11 continue to have repercussions that draw us back to that day almost constantly. As we remember the events of that dark, sad day, we pause to remember all those who lost their lives, especially their families and their loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are constantly with you. We remember the fireman, police and rescue squads who responded to the sites of the attacks and performed with great bravery. The concern they showed for others and the sacrifices they made to try to save anyone they could will never be forgotten. And, we remember our servicemen and women who stand guard around the world, defending our precious freedoms and our way of life. We owe them all a debt we will never be able to repay for the sacrifices they continue to make on our behalf.
Today we rededicate ourselves to the work that must be done to make our nation stronger, safer and more secure so that our world will be a better place for us all to live. It will be difficult and it will require us all to play a part in the effort to rid the world of the threat of terror. It will ultimately be the legacy we will leave to those who will follow us -- a world in which everyone is able to live in peace and freedom and without fear.
I yield the floor.