WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) remembered the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and called on Americans to remember the surge of national unity in the days that followed.
To view and download the full remarks, click below or HERE.
REMARKS AS PREPARED
Thank you, Mister President.
Earlier this week I overheard a few members of my staff trading stories about where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, and how it affected the way they viewed their place in the world.
Those of us who vividly remember that day can still recall an unsettling cascade of emotions: shock, confusion, and finally, dread as we realized that we were not, as initial reactions insisted, bearing witness to a senseless accident.
We were being attacked.
As the morning wore on, dread gave way to fear, then panic, and finally, sheer terror that our loved ones in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and in the air were among the dead.
A perfect storm of conflicting media reports and jammed cellular service made it impossible to confirm otherwise.
Through the smoke and blood came a moment of awful clarity: life would never be the same, because we would never again experience life without feeling like a target.
The events of September 11 introduced a new generation of Americans to the reality that our country is not, and will never be, immune to the threat of terror.
Those who were teetering on the edge of adulthood may not have immediately made the connection between global politics and the disaster playing out on TV, but by the time terrorists struck the second tower, they had begun to understand.
Later, they learned that half a world away, a group of men who called themselves Al-Qaida had made it their life’s mission to murder Americans, to prove a point.
It left a mark.
Younger Americans’ memories of that day are fuzzier, but almost without exception, my staff remember what they now describe as a sense of national unity rising up in the days following the attacks.
They remember that every house on their street flew an American flag, and that every adult they knew stood in line to donate blood.
They saw small town first responders load up their own vehicles and, without hesitation, turn toward New York.
At the time, they didn’t understand geopolitics, but they understood fear, because they saw it in the eyes of their parents and teachers.
But they also saw the shift that the attacks, and the aftermath, caused in our country. For a time, partisanship and bitterness were washed away.
Now, almost 20 years later, memories are fuzzy, or nonexistent. Calls for unity have long been replaced by heated debate.
Too often, the loudest voices look back at 9/11 as an event in the collective memory, and not as an occurrence that changed lives and lifestyles forever.
They consider in passing the remnants of the attacks in debates over foreign policy and defense spending, but ignore why we remain so focused on national security.
This is why every year, without exception, we remind ourselves that the kind of hatred it takes to bring an entire country to its knees gives no quarter.
We acknowledge the actions of 19 terrorists, whose twisted beliefs led to the violent murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people; because even though the panic of that awful morning has faded, our enemies’ desire to make an example of us has not.
But America, with all her imperfections, still thrives in utter defiance of hatred, divisiveness, and destruction.
Today, we remember those who died, and keep their memory as a beacon against the void created by violence and terror.
We remember the heroes who defied fear and reason and ran toward the flames, putting love of country, and countryman, above all else.
And we remind ourselves that, by simply standing back up, America made herself the world’s best example of what it looks like when love, hope, and valor triumph over the forces of darkness.
I yield the floor.