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Saluting the Service of Our Troops Since September 11, 2001


Location: Washington, DC

"We all know where we were the moment we heard the tragic news of the attacks on this nation of September 11, 2001. I trust that all of us will long treasure the moment we first heard the news last night that Osama bin Laden, after a decade of determined and diligent work by our Armed Forces and the men and women of the intelligence community, had at long last been captured and killed.

The successful operation by the Navy SEAL team yesterday was the capstone of ten years of distinguished and honorable service by our brave men and women in uniform. In Afghanistan, in Iraq, and around the world, literally tens of thousands of Americans over this past decade have faced battle resolutely, carried out their mission with valor, and made all of us proud. When I visited our troops in Afghanistan in February, I saw firsthand their determination, their level of professionalism, and their commitment to this important and long task. I hope, as we face the days ahead and the uncertainty of what will be the path forward in our continuing conflict with al-Qaeda and all who would do us harm, that there is no doubt about the determination of the American people and our resolve to pursue, to capture, and to kill those who would plan attacks on the United States and on innocent civilians around the world.

I want to pause today, Mr. President, and simply reflect on all who have sacrificed so much. There are hundreds of Delawareans currently serving in Afghanistan -- some active duty, some in the Reserves, some with the National Guard -- and my wife and I and our family pray for them every night, as I know so many do in our nation for the many who serve us overseas. Personal friends of ours, Brooke James and Troy Bockius and Jeff Steinberg, are all folks who are on repeat deployments and whose families we know, along with hundreds of others who bear the sacrifices of deployment. Indeed, there are many -- seventeen in the case of Delaware -- who have made the ultimate sacrifice in this decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Sergeant Shawn Moudy and Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki -- the first woman from Delaware killed in combat -- and many others mourned by their families and communities.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins tomorrow a series of six hearings on Afghanistan and a review of our relationship with Pakistan, alliances in the region, and the incredible investments that we need to continue to make to sustain our effort to take the fight to those around the world who would do us harm. But I just wanted to come to the floor today and briefly pause on what this historic moment means for the American people.

It was just a decade ago, with the attacks of 9/11, that a group of determined and hardened terrorists led by Osama bin Laden believed they had struck a blow -- believed they had hit their target -- when four aircraft that had been commandeered were turned into missiles and sent into principal targets they thought were the centerpieces of America. Two of them succeeded in striking the Twin Towers and in knocking down columns of steel and glass. One of them succeeded in striking the Pentagon and setting ablaze the center of our military might, and one more, were it not for the intervention of incredibly brave American citizens, might well have struck this very building in which we meet today, Mr. President, or the White House.

They did succeed in tragically taking thousands of innocent lives. They did succeed in striking a tough blow to our economy. They did succeed in surprising us with an unexpectedly vicious attack on thousands of innocent civilians. But, Mr. President, they utterly failed to strike at our spirit. They failed to knock down our resolve.

I know around the world many marveled while thousands of folks flooded out of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, as hundreds of determined volunteers and public servants flooded in, risking -- and in many cases sacrificing -- their own lives to try and save some of their fellow countrymen. Most importantly, in the months afterwards millions of Americans took up the cause of volunteering to rebuild and restore our communities, and thousands volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces. It is their resolve, it is their commitment, it is their professionalism, and it is the great leadership of our Armed Forces and the decisions made by President Obama and Vice President Biden in leading our nation today that have brought us to this moment.

I just want to close, Mr. President, by saying that those who struck us on 9/11 missed their target. They misunderstood our spirit and our resolve as a nation, and, last night on the other side of the world, justice was served.

The tragedy of those who were lost and the sacrifice of those who have chosen to serve will never be forgotten, but, last night on the other side of the world, justice was served. So let there be no doubt among any around the world who would wish us harm, who would today plot to carry forward the terrible terrorist dreams of this now-dead man, Osama bin Laden.

Our spirit is not broken, our resolve is unbending, and justice will be served."

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