9/11...A Look Back
I thought we’d take a look back at the formal remarks from some
of our leaders following 9/11.
President George W. Bush address before a joint session of
Congress 9/21/01. [Excerpts]
My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has
seen for itself the state of our union – and it is strong.
Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to
defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to
resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring
justice to our enemies, justice will be done
On Sept. 11, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against
our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136
years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one
Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war,
but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on
thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a
single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where
freedom itself is under attack
By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing
murder. And tonight, the United States of America makes the
following demands on the Taliban:
--Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of Al Qaeda
who hide in your hand.
--Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you
have unjustly imprisoned, and protect foreign journalists,
diplomats, and aid workers in your country.
--Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training
camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist, and every
person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities.
--Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so
we can make sure they are no longer operating.
These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The
Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the
terrorists, or they will share in their fate.
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the
world. We respect your faith. It is practiced freely by many
millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that
America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful,
and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the
name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith,
trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is
not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends.
Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every
government that supports them.
Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end
there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach
has been found, stopped, and defeated
These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and
end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America
grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our
friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.
We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen
their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous
ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve
their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will
to power, they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and
totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to
where it ends, in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies
Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign,
unlike any other we have seen. It may include dramatic strikes,
visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in
success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one
against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no
refuge or rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or
safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a
decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the
terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to
harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States
as a hostile regime
This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake
is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is
civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in
progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.
We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need,
the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking
systems around the world. The United States is grateful that
many nations and many international organizations have already
responded with sympathy and with support
The civilized world is rallying to America’s side
After all that has just passed – all the lives taken and all the
possibilities and hopes that died with them – it is natural to
wonder if America’s future is one of fear. Some speak of an age
of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and dangers to face.
But this country will define our times, not be defined by them.
As long as the United States of America is determined and
strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of
liberty, here and across the world.
Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss.
And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our
moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human
freedom – the great achievement of our time and the great hope
of every time – now depends on us. Our nation, this generation,
will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future.
We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts and by our
courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not
The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is
certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been
at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.
Fellow citizens, we will meet violence with patient justice,
assured of the rightness of our cause and confident of the
victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us
wisdom, and may he watch over the United States of America.
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in an address to the United
Nations on October 1, 2001. [Excerpts]
This was not just an attack on the city of New York or on the
United States of America. It was an attack on the very idea of a
free, inclusive and civil society. It was a direct assault on the
founding principles of the United Nations itself
Terrorism is based on the persistent and deliberate violation of
fundamental human rights. With bullets and bombs and now
with hijacked airplanes, terrorists deny the dignity of human life.
Terrorism preys particularly on cultures and communities that
practice openness and tolerance. Their targeting of innocent
civilians mocks the efforts of those who seek to live together in
peace as neighbors. It defies the very notion of being a
The strength of America’s response, please understand, flows
from the principles upon which we stand. Americans are not a
single ethnic group. Americans are not of one race or one
religion. Americans emerge from all of your nations. We’re
defined as Americans by our beliefs, not by our ethnic origins,
our race or our religion.
Our belief in religious freedom, political freedom, economic
freedom – that’s what makes an American. Our belief in
democracy, the rule of law and respect for human life. That’s
how you become an American
Our freedom threatens them because they know if our ideas of
freedom gain a foothold among their people, it will destroy their
power. So they strike out against us to keep those ideas from
reaching their people
The terrorists have no ideas or ideals with which to combat
freedom and democracy. So their only defense is to strike out
against innocent civilians, destroying human life in massive
numbers and hoping to deter all of us from our pursuit and
expansion of freedom
The United Nations must hold accountable any country that
supports or condones terrorism. Otherwise, you will fail in your
primary mission as peacekeeper.
It must ostracize any nation that supports terrorism. It must
isolate any nation that remains neutral in the fight against
terrorism. Now is the time in the words of your charter, the
United Nations Charter, to unite our strength to maintain
international peace and security.
This is not a time for further study or vague directives
Look at that destruction, that massive, senseless, cruel loss of
human life and then I ask you to look in your hearts and
recognize that there is no room for neutrality on the issue of
terrorism. You’re either with civilization or with terrorists. On
one side is democracy, the rule of law and respect for human life.
On the other is tyranny, arbitrary executions and mass murder.
We are right and they are wrong. It’s as simple as that. And by
that I mean that America and its allies are right about democracy,
about religious, political and economic freedom. And the
terrorists are wrong, and in fact evil, in their mass destruction of
human life in the name of addressing alleged injustices.
Let those who say that we must understand the reasons for
terorism come with me to the thousands of funerals we’re having
in New York City – thousands – and explain those insane
maniacal reasons to the children who will grow up without
fathers and mothers and to the parents who have had their
children ripped from them for no reason at all
Those who practice terrorism, murdering or victimizing innocent
civilians, lose any right to have their cause understood by decent
people and lawful nations
The era of moral relativism between those who practice or
condone terrorism and those nations who stand up against it must
end. Moral relativism doesn’t have a place in this discussion and
debate. There’s no moral way to sympathize with grossly
immoral actions. And by so doing, and by trying to do that,
unfortunately a fertile field has been created in which terrorism
Freedom from fear is a basic human right. We need to reassert
our right to live free from fear with greater confidence and
determination than ever before here in New York City, across
America and around the World
This is not a question of retaliation or revenge. It’s a matter of
justice leading to peace.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a speech to a Labour
Conference, October 3, 2001. [Excerpts]
In retrospect the millennium marked only a moment in time. It
was the events of September 11 that marked a turning point in
history, where we confront the dangers of the future and assess
the choices facing humankind.
It was a tragedy. An act of evil. From this nation goes our
deepest sympathy and prayers for the victims and our profound
solidarity with the American people. We were with you at the
first. We will stay with you to the last
Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of
inaction are far, far greater
Don’t overreact some say. We aren’t. We haven’t lashed out.
No missiles on the first night just for effect.
Don’t kill innocent people. We are not the ones who waged war
on the innocent. We seek the guilty.
Look for a diplomatic solution. There is no diplomacy with bin
Laden or the Taliban regime.
State an ultimatum and get their response. We stated the
ultimatum; they haven’t responded.
Understand the causes of terror. Yes, we should try, but let there
be no moral ambiguity: nothing could ever justify the events of
September 11 and it is to turn justice on its head to pretend it
could. The action we take will be proportionate, targeted. We
will do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties.
But understand what we are dealing with. Listen to the calls of
those passengers on the planes. Think of the children on them,
told they were going to die
America has its faults as a society, as we have ours.
But I think of the Union of America born out of the defeat of
slavery. I think of its Constitution, with its inalienable rights
granted to every citizen, still a model for the world. I think of
the Statue of Liberty and how many refugees, migrants and the
impoverished passed its light and felt that if not for them, for
their children a new world could indeed be theirs
This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken.
The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they
do, let us reorder this world around us.
Today humankind has the science and technology to destroy
itself or to provide prosperity to all. Yet science can’t make that
choice for us. Only the moral power of a world acting as a
community can. By the strength of our common endeavor we
achieve more together than we can alone.
For those people who lost their lives on September 11, and those
that mourn them, now is the time for the strength to build that
Let that be their memorial.
Reverend Billy Graham, at the National Day of Prayer and
Remembrance service, September 14, 2001. [Excerpts.]
Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot and to
those who carried it out that the spirit of this nation will not be
defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday those
responsible will be brought to justice as President Bush and our
Congress have so forcefully stated
A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But
instead it has united us and we have become a family.
So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has
worked the other way. It’s backlashed. It’s backfired. We are
more united than ever before
One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in
this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God
has told us in his word time after time that we’re to repent of our
sins and return to him and he will bless us in a new way
This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life.
We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt
if even one of those people who got on those planes or walked
into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday
morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. They
didn’t – it didn’t occur to them
Yes, our nation has been attacked, buildings destroyed, lives lost.
But now we have a choice: whether to implode and disintegrate
emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation; or whether
we choose to become stronger through all this struggle to rebuild
on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of
starting to rebuild on that foundation
We also know that God is going to give wisdom and courage
and strength to the president and those around him. And this is
going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory.