By Senator Scott Brown
It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that September morning when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center and forever changed the course of history. In a span of hours, nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered in the attacks on New York City, the Pentagon, and of course Flight 93 where heroes brought down the plane over a field in Pennsylvania and likely prevented further destruction.
Among the victims were 206 people with ties to Massachusetts. Today, each of their names is carved into the pink granite 9/11 Memorial at the Garden of Remembrance in Boston, and on this 10th anniversary, we should all pause to remember the victims and keep their families in our prayers.
The unexpected nature of the attacks left our nation feeling vulnerable to the emerging threat of radical extremism. Remarkably, through the pain and loss of that day came a wellspring of good -- a silver lining to a very dark cloud. I remember very clearly the immediate aftermath of the attack, when heart-wrenching sadness was mixed with a renewed sense of purpose and community. Our first responders worked tirelessly, often times sacrificing their lives in an attempt to save others. People banded together because there was a notion that we could not be beaten if we all stood together. Families leaned on each other for support and comfort. Neighbors helped neighbors. Communities united around their loss and for once it felt like the entire world supported our cause.
This sense of solidarity even extended to our political leaders. I remember watching our elected officials standing arm-in-arm on the footsteps of the Capitol, not divided as Democrats and Republicans, but united as Americans, determined to work together to defeat this new enemy.
In the decade that has passed, we have taken steps to prevent another major terrorist attack on our soil. For this, we all owe a great debt of gratitude first and foremost to our brave men and women in uniform, who have spent the last ten years rooting out and dismantling terrorist networks around the world and helping to keep us safe at home. In our military, we see each and every day the best America has to offer. Along with their families, they have sacrificed selflessly, often enduring multiple tours of duty and long periods of time away from their loved ones. The wars abroad may not dominate the headlines anymore, but our military is still working each and every day to keep America safe.
Global terrorism did not end with the killing of Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda has been weakened in recent years, but our enemy is patient in its strategic vision and willing to use any means to achieve its goals. The Fort Hood shooter, the Christmas Day Bomber in 2009, the Times Square Bomber and last year's plot to bring down cargo planes with explosive-laden toner cartridges should all serve as reminders of the ongoing threat of terrorism.
As a member of both the Senate Homeland Security and Armed Services committees, I have worked on policies that I believe will help keep us safe from further attack. Last year, I co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would strip domestic terrorists of their citizenship if they were engaging in hostilities against the United States or our allies. This year I sponsored a bipartisan bill that would increase training for our aviation security officers and build on some of the innovative security programs currently being used at our own Logan Airport. I also co-sponsored a bill that would make it tougher for taxpayer money being sent to Afghanistan to fall into the hands of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Finally, I believe that suspected terrorists should be tried in military tribunals -- not civilian courts like common criminals.
On this 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, my sincere hope is that we all take a moment to remember that sense of unity we felt in the dark days following the attacks. While the differences between people in this country are great at times, we are Americans first and foremost. If we stand together, there is no challenge we can't overcome.
Republican Scott Brown is the junior senator in Massachusetts