Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Chairman Miller pays tribute on September 11, ten years later.
There are moments in our lives that forever change who we are, how we think, how we act. Moments that remain a part of us and that we never forget. Ten years ago, September 11 became one of those moments. A moment in American history that struck the heart of our entire nation.
Each of us has a different story to tell. Where we were. Who we were with. The emotions we felt. A story that hits home. While the world stood still, we lost parents, children, a part of our nation. In a matter of a few horrifying hours, America lost her innocence. Our world was forever changed.
What started out as an ordinary day, suddenly turned into a day of shock, horror, fear, uncertainty, anger, regret, loss. Those who maintain power and control through fear will stop at nothing to control those who yearn to be free. So America learned on that cool, crystal clear morning as terrorists put their long planned attack on our country in motion. The terrorists most certainly expected reactions from confusion, rumors, and fear; however, what they did not account for on that September day was that rumbling of the collapse of the Towers would awaken a spirit from inside Americans that had been sleeping for 60 years.
Although the images are seared into our minds, we never lost hope and our hearts courageously rose up as one voice. On that September morning, we saw the very face of evil -- an unthinkable attack on American soil. However, in these darkest hours we saw the very best of mankind and felt the presence of God. New York City Firemen ran into burning buildings to save strangers they had never met and whose names they did not know. Office workers carried dust-covered colleagues down stairwells, impeding their own progress to safety. Passengers of FLIGHT 93 charged a locked cockpit and confronted hijackers. An Army officer pulled melting file cabinets off of a badly burned woman and carried her to safety. Thousands lined up at blood banks in Northwest Florida to help the wounded. Young men and women all across the country signed their name on the line and put on this country’s uniform.
As the Pentagon burned, a field in Pennsylvania smoldered, and the Twin Towers fell, the spirit of America rose. Neighbors helping neighbors. Friends helping friends. Complete strangers helping each other. It did not matter the color of their skin, the content of their character or even their religion. That day we were all Americans hurt by those who despised our very way of life. What the terrorist did not know is the strength of America is not measured by the wealth it has or the technology it develops. Our strength comes from shared values. Generations of families have rallied around the values of independence, hard work, duty to country and faith in God. The attacks of 9/11 were a test of our strength, and we stood tall.
Ten years may have gone by, but just as we will never forget that day, we must never forget those who have sacrificed their lives to ensure that our enemies never enter our home or step foot on American soil again. Over the past decade, I have traveled to visit with our servicemen and women fighting the War on Terror abroad in Iraq, Afghanistan, and numerous military installations, who defend our shores here at home. These men and women, many of whom were youngsters on September 11, signed up and said “send me.” They are our best of our best – sacrificing the comforts of home to ensure we remain safe. Here at home, our veterans continue in the mission they signed up to do years ago, helping their fellow citizens and local communities cope with being a nation at war. We have witnessed these acts of kindness every day since September 11. We must not let time erode the unity and the compassion we all experienced that September morning.
It is important that we continue to remember and reflect. While we may still struggle to understand the tragedy that happened, it’s vital that we share the stories of 9/11 with the next generation. Brand new freshman that started high school just a few weeks ago, probably do not have a memory of the events of that day. It is important that we share what happened that day first hand so that future generations never forget the astonishing events of 9/11.
Each day that passes, we reaffirm to the world our resolve, our faith in liberty for all, and most important, that the United States will never bow to acts of cowardice or intimidation. This is not an America in decline, but an America that is strong, an America that will fight, and an America that will win. America will prevail just as we have prevailed over the last 235 years.
May we continue to hold this day in solemn remembrance of those we have lost on that tragic day for years to come so that generations ahead too are reminded that freedom is precious and does not come without a price. May the nearly 3,000 souls we lost rest in peace. May their families find comfort in prayers and know that justice will be served. May Godspeed the millions of men and women – the warriors – who have defended our great Nation for more than 200 years, who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who continue to protect us both here and abroad. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.