It’s been eleven years since terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and the lessons have not been forgotten. In the intervening years, the United States‘ foreign and domestic security policy has been revamped and improved, and we have not suffered another attack on American soil.
President George W. Bush’s words to a joint session of Congress mere days after the atrocities echo with a message of vigilince, tolerance and thoughtfulness. I will excerpt them here, but highly recommend reading them in full.
On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars — but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war — but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks — but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day — and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack. Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole. Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world — and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.
And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.
Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already done and for what you will do. And ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their representatives, for what you have already done and for what we will do together. Tonight, we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights, and take new measures to prevent hijacking. We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying, with direct assistance during this emergency. We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home. We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and to find them before they strike.
We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America’s economy, and put our people back to work. Tonight we welcome two leaders who embody the extraordinary spirit of all New Yorkers: Governor George Pataki, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As a symbol of America’s resolve, my administration will work with Congress, and these two leaders, to show the world that we will rebuild New York City.
That last exhortation – rebuild New York City – still rings true today. Ground Zero in New York has faced its share of trials, tribulations, bureaucracy and regulation, but it’s finally been gaining traction in recent years. Most of the memorial site opened last year, but there’s still work to be done.
Both presidential campaigns will pause their usual campaign activities to commemorate the fallen.
President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will freeze their barrage of television ads for the day as ceremonies across the United States remember the 2,977 people killed by the 2001 attacks.
President Obama will join a moment of silence at the White House, attend a memorial service at the Pentagon and visit wounded warriors at Walter Reed medical center. Mitt Romney will speak to the National Guard Association Convention in Nevada.