On this Memorial Day, we not only honor the nation's armed services personnel killed in wartime, but we reserve a special moment of silence for the 3,000 innocent victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on America's mainland. They, too, were killed in war -- a war of terror declared by the enemies of the United States and all other freedom-loving nations.
When Arab hijackers commandeered fuel-laden commercial jetliners on 9/11 and crashed them into the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and into a field in western Pennsylvania, America was reminded of another fateful day when its enemies were at the door. And then, as now, we refused to be cowered.
On Dec. 8, 1941, hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, went before the United States Congress and spoke the following words:
"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win the absolute victory.
"I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
"Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
"With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God."
Those words ring true today.
War on terrorism
Thus, as we celebrate this Memorial Day with parades, speeches, ceremonies and as we decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those millions of Americans who served in the nation's armed forces, and as we display Old Glory from our homes, businesses and public places, we are keenly aware that the war on terrorism declared by President Bush eight months ago is still raging.
America's might is unmatched and terrorist groups, led by Osama bin Laden Al-Qaida, are experiencing first-hand the depth of our anger and the strength of our resolve to rid the world of individuals who shun freedom and are devoid of any sense of morality.
Today, as we remember those who gave their lives so the rest of us may be free, the world looks to this country for guidance, protection and support. It is a responsibility that the United States, as the sole superpower, must not take lightly.
We are at war, but the enemy is unlike any we have faced before. Thus, while we all strive to make our homeland secure, we must not forget that the terrorists will have won if they force us to change the way we live and to give up the freedoms that so many have fought to preserve.