Sep 11 2002

REFLECTING ON SEPTEMBER 11TH

SPEECH BY SEN. RICHARD SHELBY

One year ago, America awoke to a tragic and devastating incarnation of hatred and evil. Incomprehensible to most citizens only a day before, the terrorist attacks of September 11th dramatically changed our people, our country and the entire world. Insulated for over fifty years from foreign attacks on our soil, Americans in an instant grasped the magnitude of the threat we face from terrorism. In the days after the attacks, the dangerous world in which we live never seemed more precarious.

The immediate aftermath brought a tremendous outpouring of grief and sorrow. Our nation mourned as the realities of the events of September 11th penetrated our collective psyche. Candles were lit in remembrance and flags were flown in patriotic displays of unity. Stories of bravery and courage emerged in the wake of the attacks which helped to inspire and remind us of all that is great about the American spirit. This foundation of strength which was built in the days after the attacks prepared us for the challenges ahead, and helped harden our national resolve to deliver our enemies to justice.

We live in a far different world than the one we occupied just twelve months ago. With a clear sense of purpose our country has engaged the war on terrorism on every conceivable front. The vision outlined by President Bush in his September 20th address to the nation has been undertaken with extraordinary success. We have been vigilant in our fight to hunt down those responsible for the attacks, as well as those who might do us harm in the future. We have fortified our defenses and reorganized our government. Americans everywhere are more aware of their surroundings and remain defiant of those wishing to do us harm. We as a nation have grown stronger and more united than ever.

We have been blessed with enormous freedoms and prosperity in this country. Over the course of our history many Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect our freedoms. Although we have enjoyed many years of peace, the events of September 11th showed us that this fight is far from over. We must continue to build on the successes of the past year, and never become complacent with our victories. The burden cast upon our great nation was one we neither asked for or deserved, but we carry it on our shoulders consoled by the memories of those who went before us who sacrificed in the name of freedom.