The President's Speech

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 11, 2006 10:43 PM

The whole thing is here.

We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom, and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For 60 years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East. And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America's influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

And, this:

Earlier this year, I traveled to the United States Military Academy. I was there to deliver the commencement address to the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th. That day I met a proud mom named RoseEllen Dowdell. She was there to watch her son, Patrick, accept his commission in the finest Army the world has ever known. A few weeks earlier, RoseEllen had watched her other son, James, graduate from the Fire Academy in New York City. On both these days, her thoughts turned to someone who was not there to share the moment: her husband, Kevin Dowdell. Kevin was one of the 343 firefighters who rushed to the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September the 11th -- and never came home. His sons lost their father that day, but not the passion for service he instilled in them. Here is what RoseEllen says about her boys: "As a mother, I cross my fingers and pray all the time for their safety -- but as worried as I am, I'm also proud, and I know their dad would be, too."

God bless all those who died on Sept. 11, and all those who have been fighting since to avenge their deaths. I and my family and friends were blessed with safety five years ago today. I am forever thankful for that. I've met many people since then, in D.C. and New York, who were in harm's way that day and were spared. I am forever thankful that I was given the chance to know them and will always wonder about the ones I might have met and never did because they were robbed of the rest of their lives. God bless them all.