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Public Statements

Moment of Silence for the Victims and Families of the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SMITH. Mr. President, on an otherwise beautiful September morning 7 years ago today, our Nation experienced the greatest of tragedies. The United States was brutally and deliberately attacked. Terrorists took innocent American lives on sovereign American soil.

This tragedy was brought to our shores by those who seek to destroy the American dream. The perpetrators declared war on the clearest symbols of our way of life: The Twin Towers in Manhattan, the center of American capitalism and prosperity; the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, a building that represents the strongest guarantor of freedom in history. A third target, either the White House or the U.S. Capitol, was spared only because of the brave and selfless passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, PA.

The Civil War once tested the survivability of a nation founded on the concept that every citizen is endowed with fundamental freedoms. In the 7 years since September 11, we have tested America's devotion to these founding principles, bringing to this body a debate over where to draw the line between protecting liberties and preventing another attack. As a nation, I believe we have found a balanced solution to this challenge. And when we remember and defend the truths our founding fathers knew to be self-evident, we strengthen them for the next generation. We have done this all the while defending this great nation from another attack. And that is an accomplishment worth noting.

I know that in this hyper political season, we sometimes fail to see beyond daily politics and rhetoric. But it is my hope that as we continue to examine our freedoms in the context of fighting terrorism, we will not lose sight of what they mean for us here at home. This morning, President Bush dedicated the Pentagon Memorial in remembrance of 184 innocent Americans taken from us that morning. We do not identify the fallen as old or young, man or woman, black or white, Jewish or Protestant. We identify them as fellow Americans, all deserving of the same inalienable rights.

I thank and pray for our troops overseas, fighting to keep us safe here at home. I thank and pray for the survivors and families of those who have fallen in the defense of this great Nation. And I thank and pray for all those who remind us why this nation is worth defending. The United States will indeed persevere and will continue to serve as the finest example of a nation founded and dedicated to Liberty and justice for all.


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