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By all accounts September 11, 2001 started out as a typical Tuesday. Most Americans were simply going about their daily lives -- children were headed to school, folks were commuting to work. But all of that changed in an instant. At 8:46 that morning the first hijacked airplane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. And in that moment life for all Americans was forever changed.
By the end of the day four hijacked planes had crashed in multiple locations stretching from Washington, D.C. to New York City, the skyline of one of our greatest cities was missing two of its most recognizable landmarks, the Pentagon, a symbol of America’s military strength was still smoldering, and a previously indistinguishable field in western Pennsylvania had suddenly and terribly become an unmarked grave for America’s newest heroes. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost in less than two hours – the single largest loss of life on American soil from foreign attack in our nation’s history.
Three months after the horrific attacks of September 11th, President Bush reminded Americans in a speech delivered from the White House that while we all continue to struggle with the tragic events of that day we must remember that out of the ashes, Americans united, and found strength. He said, “Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew.” Ten years later these words are still true.
So as we mark this somber anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, a day which has been eternally seared into our national conscience, we remember and honor the innocent lives which were brutally taken in a moment of flagrant injustice and mass destruction. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the loss of a friend or loved one. We continue to grieve with them today and pray that time has helped to ease their pain. We must never forget the brave men and women of our armed forces, police, fire and rescue personnel, who showed such incredible strength on that infamous day and who since then have worked tirelessly to protect our country and our citizens. Many of these heroes, who are often the first line of defense when our country is threatened by outside forces, have made the ultimate sacrifice. And finally, we must remember that every disaster brings heartache, but with it also comes bravery and a strengthened resolve.