"Nine years ago today, many of us in this great nation awoke to the horror of American Airlines flight 11 crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Later, many of our worst fears were realized when three more planes were hijacked to be used as weapons against our peaceful nation. The attacks against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the failed attempt in rural Pennsylvania began a new era in American history. This era is marked by a new kind of patriotism our nation has never known. Instead of the fear and hopelessness the terrorists of 9/11 hoped to plant, courage and valor have grown.
"Instead of hatred and instability, America has grown more compassionate and stronger. We have rebuilt and regained our strength. But through this renewal and growth, we must not let the images of the crashed planes, falling buildings and burning countryside fade from our memories.
"So, today we remember the morning of September 11, 2001, and the atrocities that were carried out on our soil.
"We must constantly remind ourselves of the bravery and heroism that was demonstrated by the flight attendants, pilots, and passengers aboard those hijacked aircraft. We remember great courage of the firefighters and police who came from across the nation to assist those in their time of need.
"Today, we should say a special prayer for those families who have lost a loved one and have spent the last five years learning to live day to day with this tragedy. We remember their pain, and today we will grieve with them. We will not let the memory of so many Americans be forgotten.
"And despite all of the dreadful memories we remember on this day, we should also stand proudly as Americans. We are proud to have remained firm in our beliefs and in our patriotism even in the face of terrorism.
"It is important for us to remember that today we are a nation at war. We must make a concerted effort to remember and honor those who carry out our noble mission: the brave service men and women who are fighting for our freedom across the globe, like Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, who we learned yesterday will be the first living service member in the Global War on Terror to be honored with the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.
"Much in the way Giunta and his fellow paratroopers thwarted a kidnapping attempt and suppressed a Taliban onslaught in the mountains of Afghanistan, we must all remain vigilant in our fight against those who would take away the freedoms for which so many veterans have fought. We must not back down, give up or run away. We must remain firm in our support of American troops at home and abroad and never forget their daily sacrifices. After all, it is these brave individuals who have preserved the freedoms that Osama Bin Laden and his thugs sought to destroy.
"We should say a special 'thank you' to these members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and reserves who continue to defend our nation.
"America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.
"Please join me as we observe a moment of silence for those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001."
(Image: A New York City firefighter calls for additional rescue workers in the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 15, 2001. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Preston Keres, released.)