In big cities and small towns across America, we will gather to pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans whose lives were taken in a vicious and cowardly act of terrorism. These gatherings will be full of prayers and remembrance, while also demonstrating that although September 11, 2001 may have bent the spirit of America, it did not break it.
Eleven years later, when we look at where the Twin Towers once stood, an almost completed World Trade Center once again dominates the Manhattan Skyline. When finished, it will be New York City's tallest skyscraper. In a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, there is a national memorial dedicated to the brave individuals on Flight 93 who fought to prevent the terrorists from reaching their presumed target, the United States Capitol building. The western side of the Pentagon where terrorists crashed a hijacked commercial airliner has been completely repaired and now houses a chapel dedicated to the lives lost.
While the physical scars left upon our nation may have all but been erased, the images of that heartbreaking morning will forever be ingrained in our national conscious. We will never forget our fellow Americans who lost their lives during those attacks, nor will we forget the first responders who sacrificed their own lives rescuing those of their neighbors. It is often said that on 9/11 we saw both the worst and the best that humanity has to offer.
In eleven years we have seen the start and end of a war with Iraq and we have seen our efforts in combating terrorism in Afghanistan begin to wind down. We have seen the death of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and justice was finally served to Osama Bin Laden courtesy of the United States Navy Seals. We have killed and apprehended countless terrorist masterminds, including those responsible for plotting the September 11 attacks. Perhaps most importantly, thanks to the skill of our intelligence personnel, in eleven years we haven't seen another 9/11.
America has come out of the dark days surrounding September 11, 2001 stronger and more secure. But our safety has not come without cost. We owe an immeasurable debt to the men and women in uniform who selflessly put their lives on the line defending our nation. Unfortunately, many of these brave individuals made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the freedoms that we so greatly cherish. This day, we should all pause to pay tribute to true heroes like Lance Cpl. Andrew. P. Carpenter of Columbia, Tennessee who lost his life serving in Afghanistan. And we must never forget the commitment we have made to all returning veterans who bear both the physical and mental injuries of battle.
For those born since the attacks of September 11th we must impress upon them how in our nation's bleakest hours, we came together as country to show the world that freedom and democracy will never succumb to fear and evil. While we were badly bruised and deeply saddened, out of the fire and smoke of that day we forged a strength and indomitable spirit that can only be described as quintessentially American.
There is no doubt that we still face many challenges, both foreign and domestic, and that the road to recovery seems almost endless. But if 9/11 has shown us anything, it is that there is no hurdle too high, and no mountain too big that together we cannot overcome.
God bless America.