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Public Statements

Reflections on September 11

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, on this tenth anniversary of the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001, I simply want to pay tribute to the American people, and to our country, and what it stands for: our enduring commitment to the freedoms we cherish, to liberty and democracy, and to our system of government and our way of life.

* The attacks on 9/11 against the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon here in Washington, and over the skies of Pennsylvania, took nearly 3,000 lives. It was the worst attack against the homeland since Pearl Harbor, and a higher death toll was inflicted on 9/11 than even on that date in 1941 ``that will live in infamy,'' as Franklin Roosevelt memorialized for the nation.

* On this 9/11, our sole responsibilities are the simple, sacred acts of remembrance and rededication: remembrance of those whose lives were taken, and rededication to our country and its future.

* Those who perished will never be forgotten; their names are called out every year. And if anything, American patriotism is stronger than ever.

* The 9/11 attacks were directed at our freedoms, our way of life, and modern civilization itself. It was an assault against American leadership in the world, against the ideals that have guided us since the founding of the Republic, and against the rule of law and any sense of morality.

* But the fact is that those responsible for 9/11 could never--and will never--defeat the United States of America. No act of terrorism can overcome the spirit of the American people and our pursuit of our destiny.

* Our resolve from that terrible day was clear: to pursue and defeat those who perpetrated this evil, and to make sure they can never again threaten the United States of America and those who live here.

* As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we must note that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have now lasted longer than the Civil War and World War II combined. We have suffered substantial casualties--over 6,300 dead and 35,000 injured in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. The financial cost of the two wars is over $1.2 trillion--nearly equal to this year's Federal budget deficit. President Bush did not ask the American people for a tax increase to finance these wars, so we have not only a legacy of great human casualties, but also one of immense financial debt.

* The American involvement in the war in Iraq is drawing to a close, and I support President Obama's stated intention to remove all American combat forces by year's end.

* But I also believe it past time to end our involvement in Afghanistan. We should bring our troops home now. There is nothing more for our forces to achieve there. There are other fronts in the war on terror, such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Sudan, and we need to continue our efforts to combat violent extremists in those countries. But there is no overriding purpose served by continuing military involvement in Afghanistan. Let us leave Afghanistan to its people, and reserve the right to strike at any foe arising from Afghanistan that poses a threat to our country and its people.

* As a nation we grieve for those whose lives were so brutally taken on 9/11. We honor their memory, and we support their families. And I hope that all our military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan will be brought home to us very soon.

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