Three years ago, on a beautiful September day, America's collective national memory was seared with devastating images of crumbling sky scrapers, a smoldering Pennsylvania field, and the very symbol of our military might, ablaze. The terrorists who perpetrated these acts sought to instill fear in the hearts of Americans...perceiving us as weak, unwilling or unable to fight back...seemingly content to shrink from the international stage, and fade into the shadows of history.
In this they misjudged.
Hours after the attacks, homemade banners fluttered over railings of highway overpasses, seeking divine protection for a shaken nation. Old Glory was flown proudly from porches and storefronts alike. Out of the ashes, Americans united, and found strength.
As September 11th becomes a fainter memory, there is a risk that our outrage at an unprovoked attack will be tempered, resulting ultimately in weakened vigilance.
The nature of the battle in which we are engaged simply does not permit us this luxury.
Since that deadly strike, America has pursued justice-in defense of freedom, we have embarked on an international campaign to combat an ideology that spreads hate and destruction.
Congress and President Bush have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders. We created the Select Committee on Homeland Security, and then approved the corresponding Department, in an effort to coordinate our national anti-terrorism efforts and increase information-sharing among our intelligence agencies.
While we are working to secure the Homeland, including innovative defenses like Project Bioshield, we are also on the offensive, doing everything possible to face our enemies on the foreign battlefield rather than here at home.
The Taliban is toppled in Afghanistan, marking the removal of a government that provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda; Libya is dismantling its weapons programs; a madman dictator, who represented a grave threat to both 25 million of his own people and the larger civilized world, has been removed in Iraq, and more than two-thirds of Al Qaeda's key members have been captured or killed and their terrorist financing networks frozen.
The attacks of that day ripped apart families-severing earthly relationships. There are those who still mourn in a very personal way the death of a loved one. With great somberness we mark their loss three years later, while at the same time finding strength in our continued resolve.
That resolve was captured by Judge William Young, during the sentencing hearing of the now infamous Richard Reid, the "shoe bomb" terrorist. Judge Young reminded Reid, before handing down a term of life in prison, that "It is yet true that we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms."