Good Morning. I want to reiterate a welcome to all of you who are here for the dedication of this September 11 Memorial to honor those who lost their lives a year ago today as a result of an infamous and cowardly terrorist attack. We also want to honor the courage, bravery, and dedication of the firemen, police, and many others who heroically risked and gave their lives and limbs to save others plus the many heroes who poured forth various forms of support from around this great nation.
We must never lose our keen vigilance and forget what happened to those unsuspecting victims at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard the four commercial passenger aircraft. Our men and women in uniform, special operations and intelligence personnel, as well as law enforcement at the federal, state and local level have moved swiftly and with success. It is gratifying that there has been so much national support for their brave actions. We are also blessed to know that the cadets here today will soon be leaders in our armed forces protecting America's national security.
Of course, the terrorists struck at our most vulnerable, yet most enduring, side by taking advantage of a free and open society and accompanying values. Ours is a representative democracy. A pluralistic society, where there is room for contrasting philosophies, political beliefs, religious orientations and tolerance for those who have beliefs that differ.
What happened on September 11th, 2001, was a clash of the philosophical underpinnings of America with a form of zealotry, religious and political fanaticism that is alien to our beliefs. These fanatics have declared war on our society, our form of government, our democratic institutions.
9/11 was an unprovoked attack on America, and on innocent civilians. It was also an attack on civilized society. Citizens of over 60 countries were working that day in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and they lost their lives as well.
President John F. Kennedy once said that America was engaged in a long, twilight struggle in confronting another menace in the world, and we were successful.
We may well be on the threshold of yet another long, twilight struggle against terrorism. It is an enemy whose membership transcends national boundaries. It lurks in the shadows, assumes false identities, and is very, very patient, and these cowards will attempt to victimize any innocent citizen.
Our national leadership is challenged -- on the one hand, to confront, combat, and destroy these forces of terrorism… and on the other -- at the same time to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the freedoms that it guarantees, notably in the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution.
It is a war that we will wage, that we will fight -- and WIN -- if we must -- on our own. There should be no safe havens for the terrorists and our President was correct in his assessment that nations are either with us… or with the terrorists.
Some nations are with us. Others are hesitant and some opposed. It remains to be seen how this life-and-death drama will be played out.
I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, who one said:
And what can we do? We are not powerless.
Governor Patakey of New York was asked, shortly after the attacks, what could individual citizens do. With no hesitation, he rattled off a number of suggestions, including:
I know that many of you here today are already doing various forms of these things.
Our nation, and indeed free societies everywhere, are challenged by these fanatics and zealots. They hoped that America would panic over the events of 9/11.
Very likely they have other plans to disrupt and foment panic and insecurity with violent actions. Yes, we are indeed challenged by this menace, and it is clearly a menace to free people everywhere.
But every challenge, as someone once said, is an opportunity in disguise.
In the year 1790… May 19th to be precise… the Connecticut House of Representatives was in session. The skies - at noon - turned to gray, then to a deep black, with threatening sounds from the sky. It was as dark as midnight.
Many men fell to their knees and began praying; thinking the end of the world was at bay. Many panicked, and clamored for adjournment. The Speaker of the House, one Colonel Davenport, gaveled the House back to order, and then spoke these words:
I submit to you that Americans today, and freedom-loving peoples everywhere who embrace what this country stands for… are the kind of people who would not, and will not, panic.
Rather, we will ask that candles be brought, and we will go about the business of our daily lives, and - as each of us can - do what we can, to "preserve, protect, and defend" our precious Constitution.
If we do that, I assure you we will prevail over these forces of darkness and tyranny. Let us be forever vigilant so that these brave and innocent victims shall not have died in vain in these dastardly terrorist attacks. God bless America and her many heroes.