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Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues in commemorating the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The tragedy of 9/11 is forever seared in our Nation's consciousness. The attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were intended to crush the American spirit but instead galvanized it to new strengths.
After 11 years, the memories are still raw and the pain is real. It is for the 3,000 people who perished that day that I stand here on the floor of the U.S. Senate and ask everyone: Never let go of those memories.
On that day, terrorists showed their utter lack of humanity; we responded by showing the best side of ours. We suffered a grievous loss on that day, but we must remember that we are a strong and determined nation and we will defeat those who want to do us harm.
Many of those responsible have been hunted down and brought to justice. In the case of Osama bin Laden and many others, justice was brought to them. Now there is no doubt that those who wish to do harm to America know they do so at their own peril.
Today, it is clear our men and women in uniform and our intelligence community will never rest. They will never waiver. We have come a long way since September 11, and we owe so much to those men and women and the families who support them. Today, we join to show the world that our Nation is united and resolved to defend our freedom and safeguard our liberty against any enemy.
We also take time to remember those who perished on September 11 and to remember their families with a special prayer. We reflect on the heroism of the firefighters, police officers, medical workers, city officials, and ordinary citizens who gave their own lives trying to save others.
Each of us has been affected by 9/11. On September 11 we showed the world a brand of resilience that could only be made in America. In the minutes, hours, and days after the attacks, Americans showed their amazing propensity for compassion, sacrifice, and selflessness. Charity, voluntarism, and a reawakening of the American spirit guided us through those weeks directly after the attacks. Men and women waited in lines for hours to give blood, children donated their savings to help with relief efforts, communities sponsored clothing drives, and different faith groups held interfaith services. Our response showed the world that Americans have an unquenchable love of freedom and democracy.
Now, 11 years later, I stand before you, always remembering that stunningly clear day that was to be forever ingrained into our national identity. My prayers are still with those who suffered, those still suffering, and those we lost. But time has taught me that the way to honor the victims of 9/11 is to come together as we did in the days and months after 9/11. On that day, we were truly united. September 11 was not an attack on Blacks, Whites, Christians, Jews, or Muslims or on conservatives or liberals. It was an attack on all of us, and we came together accordingly. We helped our neighbors and we helped strangers. We reaffirmed our commitment to justice and the rule of law. On that day we were reminded that the best parts of our American character will forever trump any opponent.
So as I stand before you today, I encourage all Americans to nurture the best parts of our common American character. What is that character? It was the selflessness and courage of a New York City firefighter running into a smoking tower and up the stairs when everyone else was running down. It was the composure, confidence, and decency of bystanders helping perfect strangers. It was the sense of country that caused many to answer the call of duty and enlist in the war on terror.
It was the faith people showed in their fellow citizens that allowed for empathy, not hate to define us afterwards. On this day, let's not only mourn for those we lost but let's vow to them to be as good as they would expect us to be.
Mr. President, 9/11 was intended to bring this country to new lows but instead we achieved new highs. Keep the memories of 9/11 in our hearts and let them guide our actions, actions that show each other and the world how good we are and how good we can be.
Archibald MacLeish wrote, ``There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream.''
Surely 9/11 was a nightmare horrific. As horrific and cruel as it was, it cannot extinguish the dream.
I yield the floor.
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