WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) released the following statement today on the twentieth anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001:
"The events of September 11, 2001, altered the course of our history and changed each and every one of us who lived through that day. We have been enduring its consequences ever since. It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years since we experienced the shock, grief, justified anger, and painful losses of that day and the days that followed. As we mark this somber anniversary, let us reflect both on what we lost and on what we have learned - about ourselves, about our world, and about our country's capacity to rise up and persevere in the face of challenge.
"We learned the enormous power of American courage that day as we watched men and women of law enforcement and the fire and emergency services rush toward danger to save the lives of their fellow Americans. So many of them gave their lives, and their memory will live on in our nation's pantheon of heroes. I'm proud to serve as a Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and work across the aisle to ensure that the widows and orphans of those who gave their lives responding on September 11 have our care and our support.
"We also learned the extraordinary capacity of individuals to comfort and care for their fellow Americans. We will not forget the images of Americans from across the country who wrote letters, donated funds, and traveled to volunteer in person to assist those coping with loss, grief, and anguish. The families of those killed in the attacks, including a number of my constituents who worked at the Pentagon, along with the thousands who still bear wounds, scars, and illnesses from that day, will continue to be in my mind and in my heart.
"Throughout this day, all of us will be remembering where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt on September 11, 2001. I will never forget gathering with my fellow lawmakers on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building that evening, a show of defiance against those who attacked our nation. Americans will be forever grateful for the heroism of the passengers of Flight 93, who overcame their hijackers and stopped their attempt to fly the fourth plane into the Capitol’s dome, defending our democracy as proud citizens of our republic. When we stood on the Capitol's steps at the end of one of the most horrible days in our lives and in the life of our nation, we were not Democrats or Republicans. We were only Americans. I began to sing 'God Bless America,' inspired by the unity of that moment and the feeling we all had that, surely, the blessings of liberty that had guided our nation for two centuries would see us through that moment of danger and uncertainty as well. My colleagues joined me, and soon the Capitol grounds echoed with heartfelt, patriotic song. That night, we saw the true power of American unity.
"Twenty years later, I hope we can find that same unity and strength to see us through not only the pain of this anniversary but the crises that challenge us today. The terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11 did not just seek to collapse buildings; they sought to undermine and weaken the foundations of our way of life. They did not only wish to murder innocents; they strove to instill fear and division that would haunt our country for a generation. Today, though much time has passed, our fight to prevent them from achieving those aims continues. We must meet division, mistrust, and fear with the power of our unity, solidarity, and hope. We must rise higher than the towers they felled and embrace what we share instead of focusing on what tears at our seams. That common cause, of course, is our unyielding belief in the guiding light of our Constitution, in our faith in one another as fellow Americans and fellow human beings, and our determination that America's grand experiment in cooperative self-government must never fail.
"I pray, on this anniversary, that the lessons we have learned over the past two decades will guide us over the next two and beyond. That we will meet this moment with unity. That we will overcome, at last, the division and fear that the perpetrators of September 11 sought to unleash and exploit. That we will come to remember the heroism and unity of that day more clearly than its anger and pain. May the words of our song ring true: 'God bless America, land that I love; stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above; from the mountains to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.'"