It is hard to imagine that eight years ago our nation was horrifically attacked by terrorists. As we all remember and must never forget, more than 3,000 Americans were lost during those attacks. For the United States, it was clear that the oceans would no longer serve as a natural protection from our enemies. For Americans and our allies, we realized that the world had profoundly changed. As we mark this eighth anniversary, let us not forget that protecting our nation is an endless endeavor and honor the heroic men and women who undertake this unrelenting responsibility.
Overseas, the brave men and women of our armed forces - including some from the 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township, Coast Guard units across South Jersey, and the New Jersey National Guard Reserves - are taking the fight to terrorists in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Serving selflessly to protect our nation, we all owe them and their families a great debt of gratitude and to be adequately provided while in harms way. I recently returned from an official House Armed Services trip to these combat zones and can attest to the outstanding work by our military and intelligence personnel. I have and will continue to support full funding for our troops in the field. And I join with all Americans who anxiously look forward to the day that our brave men and women safely return home to their family and friends.
Defending our country also means being proactive here at home, and South Jersey continues to play a central part in protecting the homeland. From the 177th Fighter Wing and Coast Guard stations, to the TSA Aviation Security Lab, FAA Technical Center and Federal Air Marshal Training Center, South Jersey is home to several key divisions of our nation's homeland security. In August, I was pleased to bring Transportation Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Babbitt to our facilities to see firsthand the essential research and development being done locally. They both were overwhelmingly impressed and publicly thanked the men and women who serve at each facility for doing an outstanding job in their efforts to protect our nation.
Our homeland defense would be incomplete, however, without the tireless and constant efforts of our first responders and everyday citizens. None of us will ever forget the images of the nation's brave emergency personnel rushing to the towers of the World Trade Center. Or the heroism on display as firefighters worked to contain the flames engulfing the Pentagon. I will never forget where I was that day, nor the feelings I felt as I watched the events unfold. Our firefighters and first responders were unquestionably the heroes of that horrific day, and have always been vital to the safety of our communities. In every situation they face, these brave men and women are willing to put their lives in harm's way to save others.
It has been eight years since September 11th and many things have changed while some - despite relentless attempts by our intelligence, military, and law enforcement communities - have not. Threats from Al Qaeda and other rogue terrorists continue, therefore our vigilance and commitment to secure our homeland must be as diligent. While there are many critical issues for our nation to focus and work on, we must not become complacent in our efforts to protect America. And we must ensure that our servicemen and women, our critical homeland security installations, and our first responders have the necessary resources and our unwavering support.