There were three targets on September 11, 2001: the World Trade Center, Pentagon and either the White House or Capitol.
It is meaningful to me that while attacks on symbols of American economic and military power were completed, the attack on our political institutions failed. The passengers on United Flight 93 chose, in the words of Pericles, “to die resisting, rather than to live submitting.”
In the midst of profound confusion and turmoil — and with only about 35 minutes — free men and women chose what they knew to be self-sacrificing action.
On Memorial Day we honor our fallen heroes. It is especially a day to honor those who died in uniform. But in this century the distinction between combatant and non-combatant will be obscured. In defense of freedom, we each have a role to play. We cannot be sure how and when we will be called to duty.
In the confusion and turmoil of our days, may we recall Lincoln’s charge to the living, “from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”