Along with all of you, I mourn today for those whose lives were lost on September 11, 2001 in an act of terror...an act of complete cowardice. There was no bravery on the side of the terrorists, only cruelty, fear, and evil. It's why we call them terrorists, and there is nothing they or their families or their associates can ever be proud of in such an act.
I will be the first to admit that America is not yet perfect. We have our flaws. Among us are some who are willing to sell anything to make a buck, some who love vulgarity more than civility, some for whom hate has become a hobby. We still have poor. We still have crime. We still have children who are abused. No, America is not perfect. But even with its flaws, I would not choose to live anywhere else because America is the home of freedom.
Freedom is such a precious gift that the pilgrims were willing to cross the ocean and die on the lonely shores of Massachusetts in 1620. Forty-five of the 102 emigrants died that first winter including two of my ancestors. Not satisfied with being subject to a king on the other side of that same ocean, others of my ancestors spilled their blood on the battlefields of the American Revolution along with over 50,000 other Americans who were killed or wounded.
Then, when this great land was so close to being torn apart by that most terrible of conflicts, the Civil War, there were among my forefathers those who gave their youth to keep it together. No other war has affected America so deeply. Over 600,000 died.
World War I (116,000 Americans killed) and World War II (405,000 dead) came and went. My father was one of the lucky ones. He came home.
In my own lifetime we have seen the horrors of war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as many other smaller skirmishes across the globe. These have also taken their toll on American families and on the American psyche. But through it all, there is one message that we still proclaim to all the world: "Let Freedom Ring."
Freedom will always come with a cost. I hope that I, and the generations who follow, will always be willing to pay that price.