September 11 Remembrance
(Today, Delegate Weldon will deliver a speech in Brunswick on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Here are his remarks.)
We lost our innocence that day five years ago.
We lost a piece of the historic New York City skyline, a metal, concrete, and glass reminder of innocence lost forever.
We lost heroes that day, several hundred brave men and women who cared more about strangers than themselves.
We lost the sense that we can trust the people who sit next to us on buses, airplanes, and metro trains.
We lost that na´ve sense that the wide gulf of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans protect us from the evil we see on CNN.
We lost thousands of victims to senseless acts of random violence so horrific that it almost defies logic. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, lovers, and friends; and all they did wrong was to purchase an airline ticket or show up for work.
Every loss, whether it's the empty seat at a dining room table, or an empty pillow in bed at night, tugs at the very fabric of America.
Even if we didn't personally lose a loved one or friend, we can sense the gut-wrenching, life-changing agony that others must have felt five years ago today.
Our strength as a free and prosperous Nation derives its power from what we gain in tragedy, not what we lose.
As a Nation, Americans gained a respect for our flag, the symbol of the historic struggle of freedom over tyranny.
When we saw those firefighters and military personnel drape that big flag over the collapsed outer ring of the Pentagon, our souls were stirred by the act.
When a group of New York City firefighters raised that flag over the rubble that had been Towers One and Two at the World Trade Center, our thoughts turned to the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, and the last time American soil had been attacked by a foreign enemy.
We gained an appreciation for what our military veterans have been training and fighting for throughout our Nation's history, and we were reminded that the Pledge is not just something we repeat at club or government meetings, but a sacred promise to our forefathers to protect our homeland and our values.
We gained an understanding of the dangers that come with doing a job we all take for granted, for answering that fire bell or pager alert.
Our police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers stand as our most valiant and diligent defenders of our way of life.
They make a decision in a second that could have serious consequences, willing to place their own safety second to the needs of others.
Finally, we learned a lesson our mothers and fathers knew so well. We learned about the power of the American spirit, from the rescue workers in New York who raced up hundreds of flights of stairs, burdened by hundreds of pounds of equipment, to the brave people who reached back into the burning Pentagon to pull their co-workers to safety, to the passengers aboard Flight 93 - who after reciting the Lord's Prayer for strength - battled the terrorists for control of a plane they knew they'd never be able to bring safely back to earth.
So, on this 5th anniversary of that terrible day in our Nation's history, we can grieve over our loss, or we can celebrate the faith, power, and energy that bring hope and light to the darkest corners of our soul.
You see, our common bond is stronger than any hate-filled ideology. The flutter of our heart when we look down a street lined with red, white, and blue flags flapping proudly from front porches signifies something much more significant than buildings, towers, and monuments.
In the end, we share a characteristic that embodies 230 years of dreams, hopes, wishes, and prayers.
We are Americans, and we rest comfortable in the knowledge that love triumphs over hate, that goodwill always defeats evil, and that when we stand together, there is no force known to man that can knock us down.
May God continue to bless this great land.