Seven Years Later...
It is September once again. And the contrast remains the same today... the awful contrast between the oh-so-very bright and the oh-so-terribly dark... just as it was that Tuesday, seven years ago today.
The sun will shine brightly, the air will be crisp with just a hint of coming coolness, the sky will be that brilliant blue we so often get in early September here in the New York area.
The same bright sunshine, the same crisp air, the same brilliant blue sky we had that Tuesday.
That Tuesday... seven years ago today.
September 11, 2001...
Do you remember that day? I do. I always will.
At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
At 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings were burning.
At 9:37 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 out of Washington Dulles, crashed into the western side of the Pentagon and exploded. All on board and 125 in the Pentagon were killed.
At 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, crashing into the streets below.
At 10:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 was crashed by its hijackers into a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers made a desperate attempt to retake the aircraft. All on board died.
At 10:29 a.m. on September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center's north tower collapsed from the top down. A cloud of ash turned day to night in the narrow streets of lower Manhattan.
I remember it all. It might as well have happened yesterday. But it was seven years ago. Seven years. Seven years.
Seven years since a pack of terrorists killed more than 3,000 men, women and children on American soil.
Seven years since the President of the United States promised us that those responsible would be brought to justice.
Seven years that those responsible have been out there... out there... still alive. Still sending out those infuriating video- and audiotapes, taunting an entire nation with the fact that they are -- that he is -- still out there.
And seven years that I have continued to be so angry... so very angry. Seven years that I have to say, as I have said time and time before: "It is simply inconceivable to me that, with all the vast resources of this country, Osama bin Laden is still out there. I was trained as a lawyer and as a prosecutor. I believe in justice and I believe deeply in the rule of law. And I want those who committed these acts brought to account for what they did."
This year, for the second time since that terrible day, we have the chance to exercise the greatest of our freedoms, our ability to peacably elect our nation's leaders. We can honor those who lost their lives that day, seven years ago, by choosing leaders who are wise and strong, who understand that it is Afghanistan, and not Iraq, where al Qaeda was born and where it is resurgent, who know that we cannot keep ourselves "safe" by sacrificing our liberties in the name of security, who know that we cannot "protect" ourselves by giving up the essence of who we are and what has made us so great as a nation and as a people.
And in that way we can all best remember what we must remember this and every September 11th.
For now, as each year in the past, it is time for remembrance. It is time again to do what I swore I would do in the moments before the sun set that Tuesday six years ago. It is time again to open the film cannister into which I brushed some of the dust of Ground Zero, time again to touch it with my own hands, and time again to stand witness. To make sure that I do not forget. That we do not forget. That no-one forgets. That nearly 3,000 lives will never be forgotten.
To say, one more time, this year and every year, as long as I have life and breath, in words and images, NEVER FORGET.