Several area leaders are marking the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, but overall the commemorations are taking a less political tone than in year’s past.
In Washington, D.C., congressional Democrats and Republicans plan to stand outside the Capitol for a moment of silence in an act of bipartisanship. At ground zero in New York City, the family members of the victims are reading their loved ones names, but no elected officials were included in the ceremony.
In a statement, Congressman John Yarmuth says Americans should seek to learn that facing the country’s problems requires a transcendence of politics.
From Yarmuth’s office:
“Eleven years ago, terrorists attacked our nation and killed thousands of our fellow Americans. Today, we remember their lives. We grieve with their families and loved ones. And we reflect on the national unity that arose from the ruin of that calamitous day, reminded of our shared purpose: to keep our country safe and to preserve the values that shape our national character.
September 11, 2001, forever changed the way we respond in times of crisis. Today, we also honor every first responder — every police officer, firefighter, EMT, construction worker, and volunteer — whose bravery in the face of catastrophe left us all humbled and proud. And we honor the brave men and women of our military and intelligence community, who answered the call 11 years ago and continue to spend every day protecting our nation from harm.
As we look forward to meet the challenges of the future, we should seek to draw new lessons from our past. We will never forget the unimaginable horror and tragedy of the attacks of September 11, 2001. But we must also remember that solving the problems our nation faces requires a commitment that transcends politics, one that demands something more from each and every one of us.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also released a statement, alluding to the country’s initial response of strength and unity in the face of chaos and confusion.
From McConnell’s office:
“More than a decade later, most of us still remember 9/11 like it was yesterday: the initial confusion, the horrifying realization of what was happening, the watching, the waiting, the grief, the anger, the resolve.
And we remember how worried some people were about what the attacks would do to America. Would it weaken us in the world? Would it weaken us at home? Would we stand up? Would we shrink?
Well, 11 years later we can say with certainty and pride that 9/11 didn’t reveal the weakness of America. It revealed the greatness of America. We didn’t have to wait long to see it.
In the first moments after the attacks, we saw the courage of the first responders. In the days and weeks that followed, we saw the goodness and generosity of the volunteers who descended on New York. As the months turned into years, monuments were dedicated, mighty buildings rose again at the World Trade Center site, and of course we’ve all watched with admiration and gratitude as so many have stepped forward since the 9/11 attacks to serve in the armed forces and in our intelligence community.
We honor them today too. Thanks to their service and sacrifice, America is a safer place, many who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks have been killed or captured. Many of those who harbored them are on the run. And across the globe, there is little doubt today that ours is the greatest fighting force the world has even known.
Out of a great evil, we have seen greatness and goodness from our country and our countrymen. And that’s why we can now mark this solemn anniversary not simply with pain sorrow but with a renewed pride in our nation, and an unbending confidence in the resilience and the goodness of its people.
In her darkest hours, America always summoned the courage and the strength to persevere and to prevail. We now know that 9/11 was no different. And here’s why — because, as Americans, we believe that every person counts. That’s why we’re still haunted by the faces of those who died, by the hopes and dreams that were extinguished, by the families and friendships that were shattered on that crisp September morning 11 years ago. And that’s why we are still determined to vindicate their lives.
In remembering those we lost on 9/11, we testify to our shared belief that each and every one of them was irreplaceable. We renew our commitment to live lives worthy of their memory. And we pledge, once again, to do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe from those who still wish to do us harm.”
For the most part, ceremonies surrounding 9/11 have been low-key amid a divisive presidential election year.
But there is very little public discussion about the use of aerial drones and torture, the ongoing war and unaccomplished mission in Afghanistan, the recent killing of al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader in Yemen or a debate about civil liberties since the terror attacks.