Nineteen years ago, the United States of America was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. Nearly three-thousand lives were taken that day, and many more have been forfeited since then as a direct result of the attacks suffered that day. Today we honor the fallen, and we remember.
We remember them, their sacrifice and their selfless acts of courage and devotion to others. We remember their families, that they were all someone’s son or daughter or parent or extended family, someone’s best friend and rock, someone’s reason for getting up in the morning whose very existence conjured a smile.
We remember that each one of them had hopes and dreams and aspirations. Each one of them had a life, and it was their life, significant in all the ways each life is significant to its bearer. That those they loved and those who loved them lost, too, that day. Their lives—each of them—lost the irreplaceable. And life for them has not and will never be the same.
We stand in humble gratitude to the fallen and the injured, to all the heroes then and since who stand for freedom. We hold them all close in our hearts and minds—the victims then, since, and the extended victims. The gifts they bestowed are priceless, treasures.
And we kneel in prayer for our country, seeking grace and peace and comfort for every life touched, which is every life in our nation. Aware or not, none have escaped the hand of the attacks that day.
For all the pain and suffering endured, the terrorists intended the attack break the spirit of America that day. They failed.
Yes, we saw the worst that day, but Americans also saw the best. We saw ordinary men and women sacrifice their lives to save others. We saw a dog lead hundreds of people to safety, burning his paws, but he kept going. We saw older citizens give their space on elevators to younger citizens, knowing that in doing so they would die. We saw citizens helping citizens, strangers but fellow Americans, fellow human beings. We saw the rise of many heroes, worthy of our admiration and respect. For many, the term hero was defined in our minds and hearts by the actions of everyday average Americans on that day.
A lot has changed in the intervening years. Some for the better, some not. Our nation is embroiled in a different kind of crisis today. The enemy is within. And yet we recall that then, when attacked, we stood united. We loved one another, helped where we could, consoled where we couldn’t. We feared but we dug deep and found courage. We stood as one nation, thoughts on our nation, on loved ones, on the fallen and injured. We knelt and prayed for healing and restoration, and in His grace, God answered.
We stood. We prayed. We grieved and mourned.
We stood together, and we survived.
Yes, the terrorists attacked us that day. And treasured lives were lost. But heroes were born and our nation survived. The American spirit absorbed what it had to, endured the wounds and the pain of loss and grief. Battered, yes, but not dead. The American spirit rose. And today it still stands for freedom.
God bless the fallen, the injured and all those they left behind. Bless all those impacted directly and indirectly that day and in each day of all the years since then. God bless our nation and its people. Your word promises: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 [NLT]) Please, again shed Your grace to heal and restore our nation. God, bless America.
We haven’t forgotten. And this day, we renew our pledge made that day to never forget.