WASHINGTON – Today, September 11, 2010, we remember our fellow citizens who lost their lives nine years ago in New York City, at the World Trade Center, in Washington, D.C., at the Pentagon, and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Every American was touched by those horrific events—those who reside in our largest cities and those living in our smallest towns. We all knew someone who was touched by those acts of terrorism. The pain of that touch is with us still.
Since that tragic day, nine years ago, we have witnessed the very best our Nation has to offer in the young men and women who serve in our Nation’s military. America’s Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coastguardsmen have demonstrated, again and again, in countless thousands of dangerous and complex missions around the world, their devotion, dedication, and perseverance in the face of adversity. All of us are immensely proud of them as our highest examples of courage and commitment.
But the price for our troops’ courage and dedication to duty has been steep. At VA, we honor and remember the more than 5,600 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we commit ourselves to care for the more than one million servicemen and women who have returned home from those wars—some of them with wounds to both body and mind.
We will meet our time-honored responsibility to care for them with every tool we have, with all the compassion, skill, and devotion we can muster. Just as those magnificent men and women performed their missions in the wake of September 11th, 2001, we are performing our mission to care for them, and for the needs of Veterans from every generation, with a degree of dedication that matches theirs. We walk point to assure their access to healthcare and benefits. By providing the care they have earned through their service and sacrifice, we clear the way for them to forge better lives for themselves and their families.
Nine years ago, America was thrust into conflict; yet, we have come through this ordeal more determined and stronger than ever as a Nation—just as we have always done in times of great trials and catastrophes.
I join with President Obama in renewing Lincoln’s promise to all our fellow citizens “who have borne the battle.” We will never forget our fallen heroes—our men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion on the fields of battle, whether overseas or at home—and we will forever honor our Veterans, from the Greatest Generation to the latest generation. It is our privilege at VA to care for the very best of our citizens who have given their very best to our country.
God bless them all, God bless you and your families, and may God continue to bless our great Nation.