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We mark today fifteen years since the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Four years have passed since the death in Libya of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods — dedicated professionals who sought only to serve our country and to help friends in a strife-torn land to live in security and peace.
The men and women of the U.S. Department of State join with our fellow citizens and with people across the globe, in remembering those who died on those two tragic days and in re-dedicating ourselves to a world where justice prevails over evil and civility wins out over bigotry and hate.
For us, as a nation, the hours and days after September 11, 2001 remain seared into our minds. It was a time when we came together as one, with flags unfurled in every community, strangers greeting strangers as friends, comforting loved ones, vowing – even as we grieved – not to rest until those who had harmed our nation and its people were held accountable. It was the worst day we had ever witnessed, but it brought out the best in us all.
Of course, Americans were not the only ones who fell victim. The citizens of more than sixty countries perished in the strikes on the World Trade Center. That astonishing toll reflects both the inter-connected nature of modern society and the need to persist in our comprehensive and united response to the global threat posed by violent extremist groups. Over the past decade and a half, the United States has led that response. With partners on every continent, we are helping to defeat terrorists by targeting their leadership, shrinking their territory, choking their finances, disrupting their networks, and discrediting their lies.
As the American people each day demonstrate, we will neither be intimidated by terrorists, nor draw back from the business of the world, nor retreat from our democratic values. Instead, we have grown even more vigilant, even more resolved, and even more determined to protect our people, assist our friends, and defend civilization from those who would tear it down.
On this solemn day, we bow our heads in sadness and deepest respect for the civilians and diplomats, the military and air crews, the firefighters, police, and security personnel who lost their lives due to terrorist attacks; but we also give thanks for the chance we have to honor their memory by pursuing peace, security, and justice — relentlessly and tirelessly — in our own country and across the globe.