I was born and raised in America. I grew up in a quiet neighborhood removed from any major cities. My home always seemed small and safe. I never had to question my own security within the tiny world I knew.
That was the first time I ever saw my mom cry. I don’t remember much about the images on the television, but I do remember the tears in her eyes as she watched them play out on our small screen. The security I had always taken for granted was shattered with that experience. Because of that, I realized that there is danger in this world, the kind of danger that we never actually want our children to discover. But I had discovered it, and with it came fear.
Of course I was not alone in this feeling. Millions of my fellow Americans felt this fear also. Yet even through the panic we felt that day, there was still some hope. And that hope was there because of you – the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s military. You – the heroes who defend the security that we all seek for ourselves, our homes, and our families – are the ones that I looked to that day.
Your sacrifice has long been part of American history. We are a part of a nation that rebelled against its own oppressive monarchy to create a land of democracy. We created America, a country now recognized as “the home of the free, land of the brave.” That’s a title we earned – or rather, that’s a title that you’ve earned for us.
On 9/11, I learned what this title truly meant. I learned that we were “the home of the free” because someone had tried to take that freedom from us, but could not. I learned that we were “the land of the brave” because despite the fear we felt, you brave men and women refused to be intimidated. That day, we chose to courage over cowardice. We chose freedom over fear. We stood up for the country that had been our home for so long.
I don’t believe that any of us could have escaped that fear without you. Your lives and your sacrifices are undeniable evidence that we can withstand these sickening attacks. Because of you, we could remain assured that our country would emerge unbroken through this tragedy.
Because of your strength, we still have our freedom today. Although 9/11 will forever remain one of the most heartbreaking events in American history, it will never be seen as our downfall. And you’re what made that possible.
So, rather than dwelling on that image of my mother’s tear-filled eyes, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for being our pillars of strength. Thank you for being our support through crises. Thank you for teaching me that America cannot be conquered by fear, panic, or terrorism. We are stronger than that. Because of you, we are stronger than that.
Thank you for giving us that strength. Thank you for defending our freedom. Thank you for being our heroes.