SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 - 5 YEARS
Lawrenceville, GA - The Congressional Record of House and Senate debate for the days following September 11, 2001, is fascinating reading. We were united and focused. The words spoken were unambiguous. We would not even talk about appeasing these murderers. We, as a nation, would wage a war not only against terrorism, but all terrorist groups. We were all united that we would stop all terrorism everywhere, including those who harbored terrorists.
It has been five years. That focus and determination must be sustained every day moving forward. Innocents abroad in Bali, Madrid, London and Mumbai have been the recent victims on the front lines of this new war. But terrorist thugs are not complacent and they certainly are not lacking in finding imaginative new ways to attack us. We are certainly more prepared than we were five years ago, but the danger remains and our resolve must remain strong.
We have multiple reminders of the need for constant vigilance. On August 7, 1998, we marked the eight-year anniversary of the truck-bomb explosions that destroyed the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We will mark the six-year anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole on October 12, 2000. Today we mark the five-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. As a result of hard work, cooperation, and preparedness, we have not been hit at home in five years. But each attack in the past should remind us to be constantly vigilant in the present and that America has an obligation to promote and defend the freedom to live and worship as one chooses.
Five years ago, Americans watched in disbelief and frustration with a feeling of helplessness. We are a different nation today. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies work more closely together, and we have refocused on intelligence and other counterterrorism efforts. A war that began with an attack on a stunned nation is now a war that is being fought on many fronts at home and abroad - diplomatic, financial, intelligence, homeland security, and military.
The threats we face today are no different than the threats we faced on September 10, 2001. Terrorists were just as willing to attack us then as they are today. We are safer today than we were before September 11, 2001, because these threats are now being taken seriously by both the government and the American people. The vigilance of each person has made us all safer.
Just after September 11, I spoke on the House floor and said that we were beginning an arduous campaign to end terrorism that would end with a victory so decisive that no one person or group, no matter how much they hated freedom, would dare to risk repeating the terror they have put the world through. And no nation state, no matter how much they hated America as the world's example of freedom, would find it in their nation's interest to attempt to secretly support them. I urge you to read the debate from the days following 9/11, because it is just as important today as it was five years ago for every American to reassert that a great nation does not cower, that we recognize we cannot be fully safe until the terrorists are defeated, and that freedom can work everywhere.
We remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and we keep their families in our prayers as they go through the pain of reliving that terrible day again. We thank our service men and women abroad fighting the terrorists on their turf, not ours, and we thank the first responders whose focus on preparedness makes us safer every day.