September 11th, 2001-- unquestionably belongs among the most important dates in our nation’s history. Upon reflection, this date is carved deeply into our country’s consciousness through terror and heroism, horror and hope, death and life. On this beautiful, fall day in New York, in Washington, and in Pennsylvania, the morning calm was shattered. Horrified Americans watched as fellow citizens died. We watched as this terror grew, as our people-- fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, and relatives- had their lives cut short.
In all the wars we as a country have seen, America has had soldiers willing to die for the idea that we the people could govern ourselves. Countless young soldiers, sacrificed on the altar of freedom, far from home, with final thoughts of loved ones, have given the last full measure of devotion to preserve our democracy. September 11th 2001, had the potential to become the bloodiest day in American history. However, through the heroic actions of the American Citizens who responded -- thousands were saved. But, this day was different – most of the Citizens who died on 9/11 were not soldiers, they were, in essence, ordinary people just trying to live their lives. And ultimately, that is what will be remembered.
We watched, transfixed, as fireman rushed into the terror to save their fellow citizens. We listened closely as fellow citizens resisted the terror on one of the hijacked planes. America saw heroism on this day -- just as we saw heroism on June 6th, 1944 and on countless other days in our history, but on this day it was home. That is what made this day so shocking, so horrific, and so different. It was us.
However, we the people still remain, and therein lies the hope, the hope embodied by a nation and a government comprised of -- us. The terror that day is overshadowed by the heroism, the horror of that day replaced by hope, and the death, -- well, the death we saw that day, makes even dearer the freedoms we enjoy as citizens and makes more imperative the life we as citizens must breathe into our nation.
Remember. . . We are the people. How else can we honor those who gave their lives that others could live? Our right to self govern and to live in freedom is dearly paid for by the blood of patriotic citizens. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “It is for us, the living, rather, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- That we here, highly resolve, that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”