One year after our world changed forever

It is now September 11, 2002. One year after our world changed forever. America had always considered herself safe, protected not only by two oceans but friendly nations Canada and Mexico to our north and south. We thought we were untouchable. Wherein we recognize a twenty mile territorial limit on the coastlines of every other country in the world, we claim 200 miles because we can and will enforce it. WE thought that was good enough.

Although countries with experience in dealing with terrorism, countries like Israel, had been telling us for years that we were naïve to be so comfortable, we didn't listen and now, one year later we find ourselves in quiet reflection on what that naivete brought us.

We think back to that day one year ago and remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the first of four hijacked planes, American Airlines' Flight 11, found it's mark, plowing into the North tower of the World Trade Center. Eighteen minutes later at 9:03 a.m., a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings burned.

By this time, most of us were well aware of what had occurred. America had indeed been attacked within her own shores and the attackers had used our own planes to do it. We rushed to get to televisions and radios to see and hear anything we could. We knew that the motive was obvious: Terrorism. What we didn't know however, was how this surreal scene playing out in front of us was going to end, or just how bad the situation was to become. We didn't have to wait long to find out.

Forty minutes after the second impact at WTC, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke.

Twenty two minutes later we watched in horror as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, plummeting into the streets below, and felt the collective chill down our spine as the casualty estimates were reported.

Before the second tower collapsed 28 minutes later, to the shock of millions watching across America, United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. Apparently brought down by several passengers that, through cell phone conversations with loved ones, had learned the fate of the other airliners and were prepared to give up their lives to save many others.

By the end of the day one year ago, America had received her worst black eye in 60 years and her worst ever in the contiguous states.

Now, one year later we collectively remember these horrific images, etched forever in our mind's eye. We gather together to say a prayer for the lives lost and to thank the heroes of that tragedy that showed to the entire world why we are what we are, quite simply, the strongest nation this planet has ever known.

This morning, as New York Governor George Pataki recited the famous words that Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg 139 years before, I find myself now, more than ever, proud to be able to call myself an American.

As our nation continues the war against the evil perpetrators of the events of September 11, 2001, I find the words or Mr. Lincoln not only poignant, but a source of inspiration and pride. We would all serve ourselves well to remember these words:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Hey Bin-laden...YOU MISSED.

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