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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, in the course of a lifetime, one always remembers those moments of national grief and anxiety. They don't happen very often. From my parents' generation, it was: Where were you when you heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? When I was a young man and my friend the majority leader was a young man, it was: Where were you when you heard about the assassination of President Kennedy? For the current generation, it was, of course: Where were you when you heard about 9/11?
As the majority leader has indicated, it was for us here at the Capitol kind of close up and personal, if you will. I recall being late that morning, and as a result of not yet having gotten to work, I saw, as millions of Americans did, the second plane go into the second building in real time. As the majority leader has indicated, the building was subsequently evacuated. People scattered around town, and at the end of this horrendous and frightening day, we all gathered on the steps of the Capitol to sing ``God Bless America.'' It was one of the most uplifting and unifying moments in the history of our country. I think it is safe to say that we are, as a nation, even though we have our political differences, together and stronger in the wake of what happened.
In what is now a time-honored tradition, later this morning we will gather on the Capitol steps to mark a solemn anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is fitting that we remember the thousands of innocent men and women who died that morning 11 years ago and that despite our political differences, we remember the unity and resolve we all felt that day. In the days and weeks that followed the horrific attacks on our homeland, we were united by a common grief and outrage. Some wondered what the future would bring, but 11 years later I think I can say that America is stronger than it was on 9/11.
Today we honor the sacrifice of those who died that day and the millions who have stepped forward to defend the Nation in the Armed Forces and intelligence services in the years since, especially those who have given their lives in that service. On 9/11 we showed the world that America does not shrink from a challenge, and every day since courageous men and women have humbled us through their courage and sacrifice on our behalf. Today is the day to show them our deep gratitude and to renew our commitment to live lives worthy of their sacrifice.
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