Attack on America brings us to our feet, not our knees

Attack on America brings us to our feet, not our knees

By U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin

Attack on America brings

us to our feet, not our knees

Following one of the greatest tragedies our nation has suffered, we know our duty as Americans. We will mourn those we have lost, we will comfort our wounded, we will honor our heroes, and we will protect and defend our nation. We will stand as one against the treachery visited on America on Tuesday, September 11, in the year 2001.

We invite our friends and allies among the civilized nations not only to share our grief but also to share our determination to end the scourge of terrorism. The enemies of America, the enemies of freedom, unleashed their fury that Tuesday in New York and at the Pentagon in an effort to destroy our resolve. Our enemies have failed.

Our hearts are heavy for all of the innocent lives lost and scarred by these barbaric terrorists. But our resolve has not been shaken. We stand as one, committed to freedom. We stand as one, committed to tolerance. We stand as one against those who kill the innocent in the name of righteousness. We stand as one against those who in the name of God have perpetrated godless acts.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, we will undoubtedly learn of unparalleled, selfless courage by so many, the firefighters and police, who awakened on September 11 as they did every day of their professional lives, pinned their badges and shields over their hearts, and risked their lives for people whose names they never knew, of the hundreds of firefighters who streamed into that inferno at the World Trade Center while every human instinct told them to flee the overwhelming danger. We will never know the details of their many courageous acts nor about the battles waged on the airliners hijacked by the terrorists. But we owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all of those Americans who demonstrated remarkable heroism at America’s time of testing.

I say to the millions of those fallen heroes and to all of those who suffered a loss from this violence: this nation will stand by you as you rebuild your community and your life.

I say to our friends in Israel: This attack on America was an attack on our alliance and our common values.

The terrorists set out to bring America to its knees. Instead, they have brought America to its feet, stronger than ever in our alliance with Israel and the other civilized nations of the world and more understanding of the price terrorism exacts from the hearts and souls of the people.

A word of caution to all of us: As we identify the sources of terrorism, we may be tempted to focus on an Arab person, or a group of Arab people, or those of the Muslim faith. We must never allow any facts about the perpetrators of these crimes to cloud our judgment about other individuals or groups of people, including our fellow Arab Americans and those who believe and practice the Muslim faith in our country. They share our sorrow. We must not violate the civil liberties of the law-abiding people who have come to this country, regardless of their country of origin.

America is being tested by this tragedy. Some people have said if we can just identify that one person who is the leader of this terrorist group and somehow capture him, we will end the terrorism. That is so naive. Cutting off the head of one serpent does not clear a vipers’ nest. There is a network of terrorism throughout the world that threatens every civilized nation, and we need to understand the complexity of the challenge we face. But we will meet that challenge.

In closing, I am reminded of the comments of Winston Churchill in the House of Commons on October 8, 1940:

Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield. We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.

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