We Must Fulfill Our First Responsibility

Today, most of us find ourselves asking the same questions. Where was I, what was I doing on September 11, 2001? How has my life, my country, and my world changed?  Like many people, I will never forget where I was that day.  I was in the Capitol when the attacks occurred.  After the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I quickly left the Capitol and could see smoke coming from the Pentagon.  I knew then that this was going to be one of the worst days in our country's history.

This tragedy will continue to shape our nation for generations to come. It's hard to believe it has already been five years since that painful day.  Have we learned our lessons? Have the actions of the heroes on that day, and the heroes that have followed them, set an example for us? Are we doing what needs to be done to keep our nation, our families, our way of life safe? These are weighty questions. The answers may mean the difference between another day of infamy, or a nightmare averted. Unfortunately the answer to all of these questions is no.

We must do everything in our power to ensure there is never a repeat of September 11, 2001, or anything even remotely like it. We must be vigilant. We must be responsible. We must hunt down and destroy those who wish to do us harm. And we must not let misguided priorities impede our ability to address real threats to our national security.

The security on our borders is not strong enough. Our transit systems, commercial airliners, and ports are not safe enough. Our chemical and nuclear plants are still vulnerable targets. First responders and emergency service personnel do not have the equipment they need. And our resources are stretched thin, when they should be focused on eliminating Osama bin Laden and the terrorist network responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

We must fulfill our first responsibility as elected officials, to secure our nation and protect our people, our families, and our future.  It is long past time we fully implement the independent 9/11 Commission's recommendations.  We must make better use of technology to stay ahead of those who would attack us while encouraging more innovation in dealing with all facets of terrorism.  It is our duty to honor those we lost and make the real changes that will truly protect the American people.

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