Fifteen years ago – September 11th, 2001 – nearly three-thousand men, women and children from over ninety countries died when terrorists used hijacked civilian aircraft to destroy the World Trade Center in New York City, and damage the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. They crashed another civilian airliner in a field in Pennsylvania when the passengers, realizing the hijackers’ intent, refused to allow them to attack yet another target and fought back.
The world changed that day. Not because of the deaths of three thousand people, or because the attack took place in the United States, but because a group of terrorists saw fit to inflict as much damage as possible on random civilian targets. The people who died that day represent a cross-section of ages, ethnicities and religious affiliations. They had nothing the terrorists wanted, had done nothing to cause harm to their murderers. They died because it is the nature of terrorists to attack those who are least likely and able to fight back, and in that way to cause revulsion and horror in all civilized people.
That is why the United States, along with the rest of the global community, confronts terrorism everywhere, and advances freedom and democracy as an alternative to the ideologies of hatred and repression.
“September 11 is a date seared into the minds of all of us at the U.S. Department of State and of citizens across America. Together, we honor the memory of the men, women, and children murdered in 2001,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a written statement.
We also remember those who died in yet another 9/11 terrorist attack, four years ago in Libya: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. They were brave, dedicated professionals who worked on behalf of their country to help others live in freedom, dignity, and peace, wrote Secretary of State Kerry.
“Friends and adversaries alike should understand: the United States will never be intimidated by terrorists, he said. Terrorists can cause tremendous suffering, but they can neither weaken our determination nor sway us from our purpose.
“For Americans at home and overseas, shared tragedy brings us together, adds to our vigilance, and strengthens our resolve not only on September 11, but every day of the year.”