Ten years ago something was taken from us as a country. Ten years ago families unexpectedly and horrifically lost loved ones. Ten years ago a whole generation of first responders were forever changed by the catastrophic loss of too many of their brethren. Ten years ago the burden on members of the military and their families increased exponentially setting the frame for more losses and life-shattering casualties. Ten years ago citizens of the United States were left with an indelible memory of terror, loss and anguish.
Ten years. It seems like a long time…yet, the time – it passes. That is the way of time – no matter how dark the day before it was, a new day predictably dawns.
But the memories, the promises, the losses…they do not pass. They linger – as they should. They remain somberly stamped on our collective memory as a moment in time that changed us.
It has now been a decade since September 11, 2001. Ten years. 520 weeks. 3,650 days. 67,600 hours. Time lost with so many and time given by so many others to ensure that we keep our promises made back then – promises that we would never forget…promises that we would not fall vulnerable again…promises that those responsible would pay.
And even now we still work to keep those promises and to appreciate the enduring burden and cost of keeping those promises. All United State citizens have had to sacrifice something held dear – some of our freedoms; but, the bulk of the burden of sacrifice beyond the losses of September 11, 2001 have been carried on the shoulders of the military and their family members. Their loss did not begin and end on this day ten years ago – it goes on today. It is evidenced in flag-draped coffins, disabled veterans, broken families and veteran suicides. The legacy of September 11, 2001 is more than the loss of buildings, citizens, first responders, freedoms and a sense of security – it is the continuing loss that has come as a result of the United States’ military response.
Ten years. We have not forgotten our promises; but we cannot lose sight of the cost. Our members of the military are still being injured and dying, and through them our country is still suffering unacceptable losses as a result of the events of September 11, 2001.
Today, let us commit to an end to the bloodshed and heartache that changed us in 2001 by bringing home our men and women in the military and by working to address their medical issues. Today, let us commit to ending the chapter of this book that was started for us by others. Today, let us refocus our efforts to protect the sanctity of our families and communities by stemming future losses. Today, let us remember that while we cannot get back the time lost with those who have perished, we can try and give other families ten more years with their loved ones. Today, let us be the authors of America’s next chapter.
Ten years. 520 weeks. 3,650 days. 67,600 hours. Think about that length of time. What would you give to have that additional time with the people you love? In honor of all those lives lost on September 11, 2001 or as a result of combat-related actions tied to the United States’ response – all those folks who have not had ten more years – let the next ten years be of our own design. We must remember, honor and learn from the events of September 11, 2001, but more importantly we must finally arrive at a place where we can stop living in the shadow created by terrorists. Fortify our intelligence systems, bring home our military, make sure the history books reflect the struggle we faced as a country as a result of such an attack on our soil, keep the promise that we never forget the events of September 11, 2001 – the horror, the heroism, the lives lost, the lessons learned, and let it be known that America will not let the actions of terrorists affect the beauty, strength, heart or courage of its people or way of life.
America is strong both because, and in spite of, its history of loss and sacrifice. It is a country whose commitment to ideals are its bedrock. Yet, America is more than a country or a people. It is a promise to mankind of what democracy, decency and commitment should look like – it is a promise made over two hundred years ago by regular people that was so powerful that it has transcended generations and permeated injustice, intolerance and inequity far beyond its geographic borders.
Ten years. 520 weeks. 3,650 days. 67,600 hours. Today, we write the first page in a new chapter – a page that somberly remembers our promise, but that also remembers our identity. We are the United States of America and we will, as we always have throughout history, pen our own future based on the truths and ideals we hold dear…but make no mistake, we will not forget.
Day seven hundred and ninety-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da