September 12, 2006


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...initiatives that go nowhere....sometimes buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.I wish I could say that this was the only instance in which the majority party has sought to politicize the events of Sept. 11th, but that would not be accurate...

Full transcript:

Mr. Speaker and ladies and gentlemen of the House, five years has passed since the tragedy of 9/11. September 11, 2001, when the whole country remembers where we were, the images we saw on television, and the pain we felt in our hearts.

That day will be remembered forever as a day of mourning, of suffering and of incalculable loss. As a nation we mourned with those who lost loved ones and for those who gave our lives that day to save others. We forgot our differences, uniting behind a common purpose - seeking justice.

As I look back, I remember the promise we showed as a nation and the strength we exhibited when joining together in the days and the weeks after the horrific attacks of September 11.

Members of both political parties recognized the need to ensure that law enforcement had the tools and the resources to respond to terrorist threats, while at the same time respecting our nation's core constitutional values.

But I also remember Keith Olbermann of MSNBC who -- in his criticisms, in his special comments section -- made this observation about Abraham Lincoln:

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial, he said, barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field, Mr. Lincoln said, quote, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today, our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their inaction. We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground so we won't.

Instead, Olbermann said, they bicker and buck pass, they thwart private efforts and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere.

They spend money on irrelevant wars and celebrate and elaborate self-congratulations, and sometimes buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Unfortunately, five years later, it seems that we have lost our way. It's most unfortunate that the situation has become so dire that the majority and minority parties can't even come together on a simple resolution to commemorate the tragic and pivotal day in our nation's history.

We were able to do so in the past.

The other body was able to do so earlier this week, but for some reason the majority insisted on changing the text of prior resolutions and adding superfluous language touting their legislative record.

I wish I could say that this was the only instance in which the majority party has sought to politicize the events of September 11. But that would not be accurate. One need only go back to Monday of this week when the president used a nationwide speech to somehow equate the situation in Iraq with September 11.

And last weekend, the vice president also sought to link the war in Iraq with the September 11 attack even though a bipartisan senate report just a few days earlier had again thoroughly debunked that myth.

And those -- there are other things that I will not bother to bring up now -- but the secretary of defense has compared the principled critics of the war with the appeasers of the despotic Nazi regime. Some on the other side have asserted that those who speak in favor of constitutional rights put forward by the founding fathers are somehow soft on terrorism.

In 2002, they even questioned the patriotism of the then junior senator of Georgia, a war veteran who'd lost his arms and legs fighting for our nation in battle because he insisted on protecting worker rights as part of a bill creating the Homeland Security Committee.

So it is altogether fitting and appropriate that we remember the dead, the wounded and the families from tragedy of September 11, but surely we can do so without also seeking to trumpet our legislation or inserting unnecessary spin and public relations language into the resolution.

If there was anything that should bring us together as a nation, it would be the commemoration of September 11. I hope, I pray that we can do a better job for the American people in the future. And so, my colleagues, I ask of you, let's commemorate 9/11 the right way.

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