And still, we need to fight….
The world paused 12 days ago to remember Sept. 11, 2001. Around
the globe, citizens of many nationalities and faiths – from
national leaders to workingmen and women – paused to mark this day
with prayers and promises to continue fighting terrorism.
As I recalled that dark and tragic September day two years ago,
I pondered how we have changed and how the events of Sept. 11 have
affected our lives, as individuals and as a community of Americans.
Have we gotten over the initial shock and anger and put Sept. 11
behind us? Have we gotten back to our normal routines?
The answers are both “no.” As we saw again the news footage of
the attacks, the horror, the emotions and the sorrow at the
senseless loss of life were renewed. In fact, being reminded of
that day is healthy, because it brings home to us all why we are
fighting terror at home and around the world.
And because of Sept. 11, there is no going back to what – on
Sept. 10 – was “normal.” Our lives will never be as they were
President George W. Bush said as much in a recent speech to the
nation. He said, “For America, there will be no going back to the
era before Sept. 11, 2001, to false comfort in a dangerous
Our lives, and the lives of innocent people around the world,
have been changed by a small handful of people, whose goal is to
terrorize the world, hoping that we all live in fear. So that we
can live in freedom, rather than fear, the United States first
acted in Afghanistan to wipe out terror camps and to remove the
tyrannical Taliban regime – a regime that brutally repressed its
own people, especially women.
Our nation then turned its focus to Iraq and the reign of terror
led by Saddam Hussein. No one can dispute that Saddam used weapons
of mass destruction on his own people. Nor can anyone dispute that,
year after year, Saddam ignored the investigations, pleas – and
formal resolutions – of the United Nations. By liberating Iraq, we
have made our homeland, and the world, safer. But the United States
is also helping the oppressed and suffering build a new home,
within a democratic society. Today they are free from fear of
torture chambers and mass graves. Who will say that this war was a
failure and that these innocent people should be returned to lives
of fear and oppression?
No one, from the president on down, has denied that our War on
Terror, and the rebuilding of nations that were enslaved by
terrorists and their sponsors, would have been easy or inexpensive.
Two years ago the president told Congress that this would be a
lengthy, difficult war. He was right. But, as we watch the news
about the challenges America is facing in Iraq, let’s also remember
our many successes. Out of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi leaders,
42 are dead or in custody.
Those are facts, and they are important to a good debate over
our policy in the War on Terror. In these debates, some question
the government and its motives in fighting this war. To disagree
with government is, after all, is a sacred right that our troops
are fighting to protect.
Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He
was exactly right. And this is why, in capitals around the world –
including in nations that were once our adversaries – it is
important to unite with America in memory of Sept.11.
“The day on which the black cloud of dust from the collapsed
twin towers, overcast the blue sky over New York and will go down
in world history,” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in a
recent statement. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the
battle against terrorism would not end soon. The statements of
support and resolve were heard throughout the world. This is good
news for all of us, no matter what our politics or ideology, who
merely love our freedom.
And because of this resolve to fight back against terror, the
world is changing. As it had to change after Sept. 11.
We cannot forget that day. Every American should travel to New
York and stand at Ground Zero, as I did. When you gaze at the
massive, larger-than-life hole in the heart of New York City, you
cannot escape the emotion of tragedy and senseless loss. You will
feel anger. But, if you visit Ground Zero, you will also feel pride
in a nation that resolves to rebuild what the terrorists destroyed
and not surrender. That pride and unity is alive, and we all were
reminded of it as we paused last week, and honored all those we
lost on Sept. 11.