September 01, 2011

TEN YEARS LATER: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 FOREVER CHANGED OUR NATION


By:  Senator Ben Cardin

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a stunningly beautiful fall morning that belied the horror and tragedy that would befall our country.  It was on that morning that we suffered an unprecedented attack that forever changed our nation.

Congress has designated September 11th as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance and there will be a Moment of Remembrance at 1 p.m. in which first responders, houses of worship, towns and others will ring bells and sound sirens. 

As we come together as a nation to mark the 10th anniversary of that attack, we remember the more than 3,000 people who perished on 9/11. We also remember and honor the selfless actions of our first responders, including firefighters, police, paramedics and other emergency and medical personnel, who demonstrated extraordinary bravery and courage in our hour of need.

Much has changed in our nation since that day in September.  In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration focused on securing cockpits to prevent terrorists from gaining access. We now have air marshals on many domestic and international flights and every American knows that al-Qaeda and its supporters want to destroy our way of life.  The establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was a result of the attacks and we have all come to live with increased security at airports, government buildings and other public facilities.

Americans also now have a responsibility to help the government prepare for a disaster, whether it is man-made or through acts of nature.  DHS has set up the Ready.Gov website that encourages Americans to prepare a kit, make a plan, and be informed.  The Citizenscorp.Gov website also helps Americans volunteer in their communities to make their neighborhoods safer.

Ten years later, we can be grateful that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, has finally been brought to justice.  His death is an important milestone in the fight against global terrorism and a relief to the millions of Americans and others around the world who have suffered from the actions of al Qaeda.  We still mourn the lives that were lost, but remain united in our resolve to defend our nation and protect it from those who want to do us harm. 

As we remember the victims of 9/11 on this 10th anniversary, I also want to take a moment to honor the men and women in our Armed Forces who work every day to protect us from terrorists who want to destroy our way of life.  Our nation is truly fortunate for the first responders and soldiers who have dedicated their lives to making us safer so we do not experience another 9/11.