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Public Statements

Expressing Sense Of The House Regarding September 11, 2001

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, it has been 8 years since our country and the entire world stopped and looked on helplessly as the slaughter of innocents at the hands of al Qaeda unfolded before our eyes. And although we watched in safety, our fear and hopes were enmeshed with those who, without warning, were suddenly forced to fight for their lives and for those of the friends and strangers around them. It is a true miracle that so many escaped destruction, but we will forever mourn the thousands who perished on that terrible day. Our sorrow, however deep, cannot match those whose loved ones were taken away from them on 9/11. But we will always share a part of it even for those whom we will never know. The passage of years has not smoothed the deep impressions that we will bear for the rest of our lives.

But as Americans, it is not in our nature to resign ourselves to helplessness, even when facing seemingly impossible challenges. Instead, we instinctively rally and focus our minds and efforts on meeting and overcoming the threats that we face. We have always done so, and we have always won.

If there is anything useful that we could take away from this tragedy it is the unmistakable warning we have been given of the unseen dangers that we face in this new century. From that, a clarity of vision and a new understanding of the world has emerged. Over the past 8 years we have come to know our enemies. We have learned that their hatred of us, our success, and our freedom is too deep to be changed by concessions and appeals to reason. We now grasp the magnitude of the threat, and it is a global one. Other countries have come under attack and so can no longer deceive themselves that, once again, this is a menace for the United States to handle alone while they stand safely on the sidelines. We have uncovered their hiding places in caves, in villages, in deserts, in cities, in jungles, in back alleys in nations far away, as well as right here in our own homeland.

But it would be a mistake if our successes lead us to believe that the danger has passed. We have seen destruction descend from clear and sunny skies and know that it can happen again. To hope that our enemies will abandon their mission, to relax our watch, is to invite destruction.

President Lincoln said that those who are responsible for our Nation's course, which includes the Members of this body, cannot escape history. We have a responsibility to do all in our power to ensure that our country is secure and that America's promise for the world that generations have labored and fought for and died to protect remains whole and unbounded.

How we meet this reality will repeatedly test our national character. We are right to remember and mourn those men, women, and children who died on that day so sharply etched in our minds that it seems like yesterday. But this tragedy must be redeemed by a new understanding of our duty to our beloved country and to our fellow citizens and by what it is to be an American.

As long as we draw breath, we will remember those who, asking nothing other than to live their lives in peace, were brutally murdered by men without conscience or mercy. Let those of us who remain be steadfast, be courageous, and live lives worthy of their great sacrifice and thereby honor their memories.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of our time.


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