It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in September. I awoke that day already in a somber mood--long before I had heard the first news reports of that fateful day. A memorial service was to be held that morning for the former Chaplin of the House of Representatives, and my good friend, Reverend James Ford. Pastor Ford served faithfully for many years as a trusted spiritual guide to Members of Congress while they were away from their congregations at home.
As I began to make my way towards the door for the trip to the Capitol, I heard the following words broadcast on the television in the other room: "We have reports that a small aircraft has hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan." I turned to watch the beginning of the coverage of what would unfold to be events so horrific, so painful, and so indescribable that we could not even give it a name. We--for lack of words to describe the events of that day--refer to them with just the numbers "nine-eleven." Could America accept this challenge?
We all know the answer to that question. America rose to the challenge in the moments after the first plane hit as we saw brave members of the New York Fire Department and Police Department risk, and lose, their lives as they gave everything to help the victims in the Twin Towers. America rose to the challenge at the Pentagon, as colleagues and emergency crews immediately began doing everything they could for anyone surviving the attack. And we saw America rise to the challenge aboard Flight 93, when Todd Beamer's "Let's roll" comment led the passengers to take matters into their own hands and, over the skies of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, sacrificed their own lives to block the terrorists from murdering more innocent people that day.
On this anniversary let us continue to remember the innocent victims, the heroes and their loved ones, in our hearts, in our thoughts and in our prayers. And may we never forget that there is no tragedy that we cannot overcome in America where every new morning holds the potential for limitless beginnings.
(The preceding was written by Congressman Tom Latham on the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and it has been released each year in honor and remembrance of the day.)