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he attacks of September 11, 2001 will forever be burned into our memories. The images of the towers falling in New York, an aircraft down in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in flames changed all of us forever. Over 3000 people, Americans and hundreds of other nationalities of every race and creed perished at the hands of (19) misguided religious extremists who hijacked not only four jet airliners, but also one of the world’s great religions. It did not take long for America to respond to the attacks. Within weeks, the Taliban government that provided a safe haven to Usamah bin Ladin and his al-Qaeda jihadists was toppled. Millions of Afghans began the difficult road to democracy. The price paid in 2001 for their opportunity to experience freedom was borne by the same group of Americans who have provided that same opportunity for hundreds of millions over decades - the men and women of America’s armed forces. The most famous symbol of America’s military might is the Pentagon, the five-sided monolith on the banks of the Potomac River. More sobering, a glance to the west from the Pentagon underscores the high price of America’s freedom and that of countless others around the world the hundreds and hundreds of rows of stark white headstones that cover the hillsides of Arlington National Cemetery. It is here that the currency of freedom is banked. Anyone who has attended a ceremony at Arlington will never forget it - the flag on the coffin, the honor guard in full dress uniform, the crack of the rifles firing volleys as Taps is played on the bugle, the snap of the flag as it is folded into the familiar triangle of blue, and the reverence of fellow warriors as another American hero is laid to rest. Americans remain deployed around the world - many in harm’s way - in the defense of freedom; the funerals at Arlington continue. Young Americans from all walks of life from across the country continue to volunteer to join the armed forces, knowing full well the risks of stepping forward at a time of war. The risk is real - over 4000 American troops have already fallen in the global war on terror, and more will pay the ultimate sacrifice as Americans refuse to bend to the will of those who would rob us of our hardearned liberties. Those who would rob us of our liberties came to our shores on the morning of September 11, 2001 with the goal of changing America. They did - we will never be the same; the world will never be the same. With renewed purpose, Americans will stand and fight for their freedoms, and the freedoms of others.

“September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country and showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.” - Lamar Alexander “The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” - Rudolph W. Giuliani “September 11 impressed upon us that life is a precious gift. Every life has a purpose. And I think we all have a duty to devote at least a small portion of our daily lives to ensuring that neither America nor the world ever forgets September 11. - Bill Frist “No matter how hard we try words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our history as a day to remember.” - Billy Graham “September 11 was, and remains, above all an immense human tragedy. But September 11 also posed a momentous and deliberate challenge not just to America but to the world at large. The target of the terrorists was not only New York and Washington but the very values of freedom, tolerance and decency which underpin our way of life.” - Tony Blair “Five years have come, and five years have gone, and still we stand together as one. We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us.” - Michael Bloomberg

Pentagon 9-11 Victims Memorial (photography by Tom Field)

Rick Francona

Author, Media Analyst, Intelligence Officer

Best of DC

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BEST OF DC: Defining Change in American Leadership  
BEST OF DC: Defining Change in American Leadership  

Welcome to the BEST OF DC: ‘Defining Change’ in American Leadership. This Inaugural Edition is the very first interactive publication of its...

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