CLEVELAND - It was out of the bluest of skies the terror came eleven years ago. At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the azure skies of New York were muddied with the black smoke of terrorism and the fiery fist an enemy who hijacked a jetliner, plunging it deeply into a World Trade Center tower. Moments later, another commandeered plane crashed into a second tower. The billowing smoke of the crashed airliners and the falling debris of the towers blocked out the sun.
A third hijacked jetliner was wrestled away from its crew and terrorists plunged it into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. A fourth would have struck another high-profile target had not passengers aboard it fought to regain control from terrorist hijackers. That plane was plunged into a rolling meadow in Pennsylvania.
The horror of 9/11 shook not only America, but much of the world. Eleven years later, we remember the terror. However, we must remember that we are recovering from those horrible times.
Even years after 9/11, we realize how much the horrible events changed us. Just as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet docked there ushered us into World War II in 1941, the 9/11 attacks propelled us into another war, which is still being waged. Terrorists are still being hunted in far reaches of the world.
On both December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001, American tranquility was shattered. For both instances we pause to reflect and remember. Pearl Harbor is far distant from us now and many who lived during that time have passed from the scene. Yet the war which came from it is part of history and is forever tied to our present and future. Large historical events are like that. So it is and will be with 9/11. It is still a fresh wound in our memory, yet we are recovering just as we recovered from Pearl Harbor.
Our commemorations of 9/11 show our recovery, albeit it slow. Our vulnerability was tested when the terrorists struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the rolling meadow of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But out of those horrible events came a deep American resolve to be stronger, better, and more vigilant.
On this day and in the approaching years, we will continue to recover. As a nation, we will always remember the events of 9/11 as, indeed, we should. We will long mourn the losses of the 2,977 people who died when terrorists hit us out of pristine blue late summer skies. The wounds are still fresh, though they are healing. The wounds have left scars which will always remind us of the horror through which we lived and some of us died.
But we will also remember the heroic actions of many who went into the valleys of terror to save lives. We are recovering because we must recover. When we read the documents which state the history and purpose of the United States, there are references to "we the people." It is the "we the people" who have climbed back from the tough days of terrorism and found even greater resolve.
Our very freedom was attacked eleven years ago. But our freedom was not killed. It is still evident. So, too, is the recovery of the American people who comprise that huge number who are identified as "we the people."
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