The United States has long been defined by its resolve, its values and the resilience with which we have overcome depression, political turmoil and even the most devastating tragedies.
As we honor the memory of those whose lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and pledge our continued vigilance against the fear-inducing tactics of violent extremists who target Americans and threaten our way of life, we can also be justifiably proud of our response to those threats.
A decade after the attacks, the Department of Justice continues to use every available tool and appropriate resource to defeat terrorists, combat other threats to national security, and keep the American people safe. We have no higher priority.
Around the world, terrorists have attempted to undermine our values and weaken our societies, but our values have endured and our societies have thrived. The rule of law, and the principles that underpin our nation’s legal system, continue to drive the Justice Department’s aggressive pursuit of those who would threaten our country, its citizens and its global interests.
Citizens from more than 70 countries died in the 9/11 attacks. As we pay respect to those we lost on 9/11 we also honor all victims of terrorism around the world. The tragedy of 9/11 did not change who we are or what we stand for. It did not alter our values or paralyze our national discourse.
Americans continue to embrace democratic values and fundamental liberties instead of fear and oppression, and to promote those values abroad. As the Justice Department works to disrupt, dismantle and defeat terrorist plots, we also vigorously enforce our civil rights and ensure that everyone’s civil liberties are protected.
Our political and legal systems have proven resilient enough to grapple with even the most heated areas of controversy and tension. This reaffirms our nation’s extraordinary resolve, and the strength of our commitment to reconcile the demands of security with the requirements of fairness, openness and tolerance in our society.
America is strengthened by the diversity of our people, and by the ability of disparate communities to come together, in spite of differences in race, religion, background and point of view, to celebrate the patriotic values we have in common. This includes Muslim Americans, many of whom have been critical partners in the fight against terrorism, and who are, as President Barack Obama has stated, “a part of our American family.”
As we remember those who lost their lives in the devastating attacks of 9/11, we reaffirm the resilience of our great nation and its people, and pledge our continued vigilance in the face of evolving threats.
Ten years after 9/11 our country is stronger and more secure, our enemy is severely weakened, and our resolve to bring terrorists to justice – and to live out the values that have always defined the United States — remains undimmed.
Barry Grissom is the United States Attorney for the District of Kansas.