Remarks by Trudy Jones at a 9/11 Memorial
Who we are – What we are – These are influenced by the experiences in our lives.
I was 14 years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. With my family I was glued to the television for days watching the surreal footage and mourning the loss of our young, vibrant leader.
That autumn day stays with me still; as I’m sure it stays with many of you. It is resseared in our collective memory, a common historical touchstone. Our world was changed forever.
Eleven years ago today, our world was forever changed again. At 8:46 a.m. eastern time on September 11, 2011 al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. They slammed two into the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York and a third into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth plane, targeted for the Capitol Building in Washington, was overtaken by passengers and crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 people died that morning. Most of them were like you and me, going about their daily routine, or traveling for business or pleasure. Some were conducting business in high-rise offices or walking on the streets of lower Manhattan. Others were working inside or on the grounds of the Pentagon in our nation’s capital. Still others were settling in for cross-country flights. Many were firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel and other first responders who, fully understanding the odds of their own survival, risked their lives to save others.
Each of us has our own personal memories of that horrible day. Whatever those memories, whatever those connections, 9/11 is -and always will be- part of who we are as individuals, as Americans and as citizens of the world.
The decade since the September 11, 2001 attacks has reshaped our lives in many ways. On 9/11, we lost a sense of security inside our own borders fostered by two centuries of near total invulnerability to outside attack. But in the decade since, we have created a Department of Homeland Security to protect the nation. U.S. Intelligence and law enforcement has become much more aggressive in pursuing the terrorist threat at home and abroad.
Our world changed forever on 9/11. It was a horrific, incredibly sad time in our country’s history. But America emerged stronger than ever. Our response to the terrorist attacks demonstrates the core values that make our country great: resilience, determination, vigilance, commitment, and resolve.
Now that we have spent a decade disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda, we are addressing other security threats and foreign policy challenges that face our nation. The road will not be easy and the path may not always be clear. Today we mourn our innocence and celebrate the lives of those who gave the most: those passengers, office workers, bystanders and brave responders who exhibited what this country is and stands for. America remains a leader in the global community, and bears a special responsibility to encourage democracy, preserve peace, and improve the lives of people everywhere.
That is who we are. That is what America is.
God bless you and God bless America.