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“On September 11, 2001, four jet-liners, each with dozens of innocent Americans aboard, were turned into missiles by 19 terrorists.
News reports said that only three of the planes found their targets. Tell that to the families of United Flight 93. Tell that to the terrorists; according to them, those four planes all hit exactly where they wanted – at the heart and soul of American freedom.
These terrorists killed 2,977 innocent people. They caused billions of dollars in damage. For a few hours, they shook the nation they attacked. They frightened us. They caused untold grief for the Americans touched by their hatred; and their hatred touched us all.
Then, Americans did something the terrorists did not expect. We united. We pulled together. We became stronger, our love for our country deepened, and we rejected intolerance in favor of the liberty established for us by our Founders and passed on to us by our forebears.
Marking the anniversary of these attacks requires three things from the American people: remembrance, respect, and resolve.
September 11th is a national day of remembrance for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. It’s a memorial to those terrible moments when the hearts of our nation broke in two for the thousands of families of victims. And it is a solemn day to honor the American men, women and children who died in an act of cowardly malice and deadly violence, casualties in a holy war known only to fundamentalist extremists half a world away.
Then there is respect for the men and women who have left their homes in the service of our country to protect us from future attacks by the same heartless terrorists. In Missouri, thousands of service members have contributed to the effort to establish a foothold for freedom in the Middle East. Thousands have been called up to duty in the National Guard and Reserves. And thousands of families, friends and neighbors have sacrificed every day their loved one is away from home.
Finally, resolve. This is a day to treasure our freedom and to make the commitment that we will always be free. Be glad that our nation has not, and never will be, overcome by the ambitions of fundamentalists who want only to destroy our systems of liberty, justice, and honor.
Each year at September 11th, we should resolve to fight the dependence of our nation on foreign oil. We should resolve to provide every possible aspect of care to the Americans who are casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere they serve in combat around the world. And we should resolve to use our civic voice to protect freedom for this generation as well as the next.
I often call to mind the words inscribed on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. They say, “Freedom Is Not Free.” The survival of our nation as we know it depends on the dedication of its people to the principles of liberty and justice, the institutions of family and faith, and the concept of individual rights and shared sacrifice.”