Terrorism struck our nation on September 11, 2001 without warning and without reason. Terrorists with no heart, no soul, and no conscience shook the very foundations of our country. But make no mistake about it, history has shown that those very terrorists failed miserably.
On that clear, sunny, early-September day, a collective nation watched as acts of evil played out against the homeland. Thousands of Americans killed and injured at the hands of terrorists. Catastrophic amounts of physical and emotional damage inflicted upon us.
The calendar has now rolled forward a decade, and it's as if it happened yesterday. We remember exactly where we stood. We know the pictures, the stories, the untold numbers of selfless acts of courage - firefighters climbing the Twin Towers to save lives, first responders at the Pentagon galvanizing forces, Americans on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania refusing to allow terrorists to reach their intended target. Everywhere, strangers helping strangers over and over again.
Through this chapter of our history, we have stood strong confronting many questions and challenges. How do we effectively protect this great nation? Do we trade personal privacy and protection for freedom? How do we make sure another 9/11 does not happen again? Can we ever offer enough thanks and praise to the military and first responders for the jobs that they do?
No experience, for me, has been more somber than meeting with the families of fallen soldiers who have given their lives in the line of duty. Fallen soldiers, like Army Private First Class Gil Morales Del Valle, whose body recently returned home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Words are a small token of thanks in the shadow of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Our lives changed forever on September 11, 2001, and the horror of that day remains seared on our memory. But, as a nation, we move forward together. I am proud that the people of our country displayed heroism, bravery, unity, and resolve that day.
We will not tolerate such horrendous acts. We will not stand frozen in fear waiting for harm to come our way. Our troops are on the offensive rooting out those who seek to cause harm.
Osama bin Laden has since met his death. And, while we can be relieved that he walks the earth no more, the War on Terror is alive and well at all corners of the globe. America continues to emerge stronger, more resolute, and more united in our commitment to democracy and freedom.