WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement in advance of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on our nation. On September 11, 2001, then-Congressman Cardin represented Maryland’s 3rd Congressional district.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since America saw nearly 3,000 Americans murdered by foreign terrorists in one of the most horrific attacks in our nation’s history, including 68 Marylanders. At times, the wounds still seem as fresh as if it were yesterday. Thousands of innocent men, women, and children of all races, religions, and backgrounds were lost before our eyes. We honor their memory. They will never be forgotten.
“As individuals and as a nation, 9/11 changed us forever. The threat of terrorism was no longer something that happened ‘over there.’ It had arrived on our doorstep, crashing into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and – thanks to the bravery of scores of passengers – a field near Shanksville, Pa.
“On that day in 2001, through our grief and anger, we came together as a nation to condemn those who attacked us. We stood united without regard for partisanship. We were Americans, and we would not allow those who used our freedoms against us win the day. We thanked the selfless firemen, police officers and other first-responders and National Guard who rushed into the flames and debris. We thanked our military and diplomats who stood guard overseas in service to democracy. We showed compassion for the strangers who were left stranded far from home when every civilian aircraft had to land as soon as possible. And we hugged our family and friends a little tighter.
“Twenty years later, the scars remain deeply personal. What adult cannot recall where they were when they learned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center complex? Once we realized that this was not a horrific accident, our minds raced through the possibilities of what was happening. Who was attacking us and why? Where were our family members? Could we reach them?
“During the intervening years, we took measures to eliminate safe havens for terrorists and have brought many, including Osama bin Laden, to justice for deadly crimes against the American people. At home, we continue to struggle to find a balance between public safety and civil liberties. It has not always been easy. The terrorists turned the openness of American society against us, hoping fear and chaos would fill the void. We can never allow the attacks to be used as an excuse to demonize our neighbors, based on religion or creed.
“On this solemn anniversary, we join together as Americans to show the world that America still stands for freedom and liberty. We are not a perfect nation, but we have shown the world strength in our resilience and compassion. We must reject hate and fear, and embrace respect, understanding and love. We forever honor those who were taken from us on September 11, 2001. Terrorists can never extinguish the light of the greatest democracy this planet has ever known.”