Good morning, this is John Kerry.
Three years ago today, on a bright September morning, a young couple took their three-year old daughter on her first airplane flight – American Flight 11, from Boston to Los Angeles. On that morning, a security guard stood watch at the World Trade Center, proud that in just six days, he would become an American citizen. He had already told his wife to wear her nicest dress to the ceremony. On that morning, a firefighter left his pregnant wife, and reported for duty at Rescue Company 4 to fill in for someone else. It was supposed to be his day off.
On September 11, 2001, they and nearly 3,000 others were living out the daily rhythm of life in a nation at peace. But on that morning, in a single moment, they were lost, and our land was changed forever.
In the hours after the attacks, we drew strength from firefighters who ran up the stairs and risked their lives so that others might live. From rescuers who rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. From the men and women of Flight 93 who sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol. They didn’t think twice. They didn’t look back. And their courage lifted our nation.
That was just the beginning. In the days that followed, we saw an outpouring of love as people across America and around the world asked themselves, “What can I do to help?” How can I, as the Scripture says, help repair the breach? [Isaiah 58:12]
In Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, Christians and Jews came together to attend services at a local mosque. They came to support their Muslim friends and neighbors – and together, they prayed as one.
The people of Akron, Ohio wanted to do something for the firefighters of New York. So they dug deep into their pockets and donated enough money to buy a fire truck, two ambulances, and three police cars.
And in Reno, Nevada, two little girls started a penny drive to help the families of the victims. They hoped, as one of them put it, to “make their hearts feel better.”
So while September 11th was the worst day this nation has ever seen, it brought out the best in all of us.
I know that for those who lost loved ones that day, the past three years have been almost unbearable. Their courage and faith have been tested in a way they never imagined. But day after day, they have held on. And day after day, they and we have found hope and comfort and strength by the quiet grace of God.
We are one America in our prayers for those who were taken from us on September 11th and for their families. And we are one America in our unbending determination to defend our country – to find and get the terrorists before they get us.
A poet once wrote that those who have left us “…have a silence that speaks for them at night…They say: our deaths are not ours; they are yours; they will mean what you make them…They say: we leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.”
In the past three years, with countless acts of bravery and kindness – large and small – Americans have given meaning to those lives. That terrible day has renewed our sense of purpose. And in the years ahead we will share its lessons with our children and grandchildren. We will tell them that on September 11th, ordinary men and women became heroes at a moment’s notice – and so can you. We will tell them that we were strong because we took care of each other – and so can you. We will tell them that we came together in tragedy, chose confidence over fear, and that our love for America far outshone the darkness of those who hate us.
Finally, we will tell them that on September 11th and the days that followed, we learned in the hardest way possible that the American spirit endures. It is that spirit which leads us to defy the terrorists and affirm that freedom will win. It is that spirit which sustains the families of September 11th as they rebuild their lives. And it is that spirit which will guide us as we rebuild those towers – stronger, higher, and more beautiful than ever before. Just like America.
Thanks for listening.
President Bush's radio address
Good morning. This is a day of remembrance for our country. And I am honored to be joined at the White House today by Americans who lost so much in the terrible events of September the 11th, 2001, and have felt that loss every day since.
Three years ago, the struggle of good against evil was compressed into a single morning. In the space of only 102 minutes, our country lost more citizens than were lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Time has passed, but the memories do not fade. We remember the images of fire, and the final calls of love, and the courage of rescuers who saw death and did not flee.
We remember the cruelty of enemies who murdered the innocent, and rejoiced in our suffering. We remember the many good lives that ended too soon - which no one had the right to take.
And our nation remembers the families left behind to carry a burden of sorrow. They have shown courage of their own. And with the help of God's grace, and with support from one another, the families of terror victims have shown a strength that survives all hurt. Each of them remains in the thoughts and prayers of the American people.
The terrorist attacks on September the 11th were a turning point for our nation. We saw the goals of a determined enemy: to expand the scale of their murder, and force America to retreat from the world. And our nation accepted a mission: We will defeat this enemy.
The United States of America is determined to guard our homeland against future attacks. As the September the 11th commission concluded, our country is safer than we were three years ago, but we are not yet safe.
So every day, many thousands of dedicated men and women are on duty - as air marshals, airport screeners, cargo inspectors, border patrol officers, and first responders. At the same time, Americans serving in the FBI and CIA are performing their daily work with professionalism, while we reform those agencies to see the dangers around the next corner. Our country is grateful to all our fellow citizens who watch for the enemy, and answer the alarms, and guard America by their vigilance.
The United States is determined to stay on the offensive, and to pursue the terrorists wherever they train, or sleep, or attempt to set down roots. We have conducted this campaign from the mountains of Afghanistan, to the heart of the Middle East, to the Horn of Africa, to the islands of the Philippines, to hidden cells within our own country.
More than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We know that there is still a danger to America. So we will not relent until the terrorists who plot murder against our people are found and dealt with.
The United States is also determined to advance democracy in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring the peace and security we all want. When the peoples of that region are given new hope and lives of dignity, they will let go of old hatreds and resentments, and the terrorists will find fewer recruits. And as governments of that region join in the fight against terror instead of harboring terrorists, America and the world will be more secure.
Our present work in Iraq and Afghanistan is difficult. It is also historic and essential. By our commitment and sacrifice today, we will help transform the Middle East, and increase the safety of our children and grandchildren.
Since September the 11th, the sacrifices in the war on terror have fallen most heavily on members of our military, and their families. Our nation is grateful to the brave men and women who are taking risks on our behalf at this hour.
And America will never forget the ones who have fallen - men and women last seen doing their duty, whose names we will honor forever.
The war on terror goes on. The resolve of our nation is still being tested. And in the face of danger we are showing our character. Three years after the attack on our country, Americans remain strong and resolute, patient in a just cause, and confident of the victory to come.
Thank you for listening.