The solemn occasion was the commemoration of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center of Sept. 11, 2001.
Images of the airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers and the resulting fire and black clouds of smoke are seared into our minds for a lifetime. It is one of those tragedies that every person can recall where he or she was when the news was received. Much will continue to be written and done to mark this date in the nation’s history.
It is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,982 people killed in the terror attacks of Feb. 26, 1993, and Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center site, in a field near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 Memorial, which was dedicated last year on the tragedy’s 10th anniversary, is defined by two reflecting pools, a grove of trees and the names of the victims inscribed in bronze. The reflecting pools are nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.
In her book, “Let’s Roll: Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis,” Lisa Beamer writes about her feelings on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001: “In that dark moment, my soul cried out to God, and He began to give me a sense of peace and a confidence that the children and I were going to be OK. But even that comfort didn’t take away the wrenching pain of the awful sense of loss I felt.”
Every person who lost a loved one in those attacks went through, and still lives with, heart-wrenching loss. But for the Christian, there is hope. Even Todd Beamer, Lisa’s husband and one of the heroes of Flight 93, turned to God in the midst of his own trial. With a telephone operator, he prayed the Lord’s Prayer, recited the 23rd Psalm and was heard to whisper, “Help me, Jesus,” several times before calling his fellow passengers to action: “Let’s roll!” Those with a sure confidence in God’s purposes and plans are never frozen by fear. Todd Beamer was not. Lisa Beamer is not. And you will not be, through faith in the goodness of God.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since that tragic day. We’ve come a long way since that unspeakable tragedy.
We’ve spread freedom around the world. We stood our ground, said we would not stand for this atrocity, that those responsible would be brought to justice — and that’s exactly what we did. We recognize that all our service men and women and emergency responders have given something of themselves to their community and their country and some have given all — laying down their lives to defend the freedoms we hold so dear.
On Tuesday, we especially honored those who have given their lives in the defense of liberty and we also recognized everyone who has worn the uniform of this great nation, our military, fireman and rescue personnel, EMS and our law enforcement officers. To all our veterans and emergency responders, we have a simple yet heartfelt message — thank you — for your service. We want you to know that your example serves to inspire others who follow in your footsteps. Thank you for your selfless service in peacetime and war, on that tragic day in September 2001, and here in this nation and throughout the world.
Regardless of their service and the era in which they have served, veterans have paid a price for the freedom we enjoy. They have paid with their courage and honor. They have defended America through both the best and worst of times and they have performed their difficult duties tirelessly, with little recognition or fanfare. They have sought neither fortune nor fame. A simple love of country and liberty compelled them to serve this great nation of ours.
Today’s armed forces embody the "Spirit of 1776." Now however, instead of militias and the Continental Army of General George Washington protecting this nation, it is a team of National Guardsmen, reservists and active duty soldiers who help defend our towns and cities. Together with state and local authorities, these modern-day patriots form a team that is our nation's first line of defense against terrorists and other threats to our livelihood. At home and throughout the world, our soldiers uphold the finest traditions of veterans from other bygone eras.
Currently, our soldiers are serving in 120 countries throughout the world, and the legacy of our veterans continues to inspire each of them to answer the call to duty.
We now know our enemies will not be deterred solely by our ability to retaliate. We will be vigilant. We will maintain our fighting spirit and our values. For our emergency service workers and our law enforcement officers, they draw their strength from their values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
These values have always been with them, and they continue to sustain us. The horror of 9/11 demonstrated to many that we cannot take our past peace and prosperity for granted.
But our emergency services and law enforcement workers, and all branches of our military, already knew this. They know our nation was founded not on the guarantees of the past, but the promise of the future. They know that freedom isn’t free and that eternal vigilance is the price we must always pay for our liberty. What we must resolve is to now keep faith with our emergency service workers and our military.
We must also thank and support our veterans for their outstanding and selfless service to our nation. Let us thank them not only today, this week, next week and beyond, but every day. Remember all who served during the terror of 9/11, and the price that our military servicemen and women continue to pay physically and emotionally to keep this nation safe. Remember our troops — America’s future veterans — America’s sons and daughters, who have selflessly made the decision to defend your rights and to live as freedom-loving Americans.
Additionally, remember that our military and local emergency service workers’ families also have paid a price for freedom. We may never be able to adequately thank them, but we must always support them. With your support, they will continue to honor their sacred duty of protecting this nation, our fellow citizens and the freedoms we hold so dear.
God told us in Psalms 55:22 that, “He will never let the righteous fall.” God is faithful and grace is free. And the greatest reflection of Christ any person can show is to lay down their life for another. In that, many emergency service workers have reflected the example of Christ.