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It has been 10 years since Islamic fundamentalists attacked America and murdered more than 3,000 of our family, friends and neighbors.
Like every New Yorker who lived through that day, I remember where I was when I learned that our city and country were under attack. I remember watching the towers fall from my apartment terrace. I remember the countless photographs of the missing posted around the city by searching family members. I remember the unity and sense of purpose Americans exhibited in the days and weeks after Sept. 11, 2001.
That unity and sense of purpose helped sustain the grieving families through the worst days of their lives. It drove the heroic men and women of our armed forces and intelligence services to pursue those who planned, executed and facilitated the attack to bring almost all of them to justice or, when necessary, bring justice to them.
And it spurred our government at every level to focus on preventing future terrorist attacks on our soil. I am proud to have authored such anti-terrorism laws as the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, the Freedom to Report Terrorism Act, the Public Servant Soldier Salary Act and the Non-Profit Homeland Security Preparedness Study Act.
It has not been an easy 10 years. Thousands of Americans have lost their lives fighting for us in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has taken a decade for the government to recognize its responsibility to compensate and care for the first responders who rushed to rescue our fellow citizens in the rubble of Ground Zero. And the families of those lost on 9/11 live with their pain every day.
Every American can make a difference and contribute to winning the war on terror. If you see something, say something. If you see a veteran returning from overseas, say thank you. Support our police officers and firefighters they risk their lives for us each time they put on their uniforms. Vote, participate in your neighborhood civic association and volunteer for a worthy cause. These are the blessings of liberty which we are fighting to preserve.
Never submit to the temptation to stigmatize a group of people based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin. Living in the most diverse city in the world is a privilege, requiring hard work by people of good will of every community.
Most of all, as we pause to remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, let each of us commit to find within ourselves and share with our neighbors the unity and sense of purpose necessary to continue to support the 9/11 families and to make us worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf by our armed forces and first responders.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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