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My 9/11 Remarks from September 11, 2011

It is my privilege and honor to be your speaker today.

September 11, 2001 was the worst terrorist attack America has ever seen.  Terrorists flew airplanes into both towers of the world trade center, the pentagon, and another plane was driven into the ground in Shackville, PA.   2,819 people died.

Today, We remember our heroes-  both our heroes that died and our heroes that live…

At quarter to 9 a.m., American Flight 11 struck World Trade Center Tower 1. Rick Rescorla- he was the loveable military man who headed up security for Morgan Stanley.  Employees were told to remain at their desks.  Disregarding that order, Rick Rescorla  led the evacuation of 2,700 Morgan Stanley employees out of Tower 1.  All survived… except Rick.  In the military, Rick Rescorla learned that “you leave no-one behind” and he went back into Tower 1 to save more lives…

In the beginning of America, there were just… three words:  We The People.

When Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem, he ended the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner with a question mark.  And the line reads, “Over the land of the free and the home of the brave?”  question mark.

In every generation, it’s always in question! In every generation, we are called on to be brave and defend freedom!

This lesson was imparted in me at a young age…

As a very  young child, I had found- –  the WWI Memorial- the stone marker..  in Herscher American Legion Park.  My parents explained to me that those 6 names-  etched in stone- represented the local men died in WWI defending our freedom and liberty:  Samuel  Leiser, Henry Mau, Eugene Gregoire, Herman Schultz, John Benville and Robert Gardner.  And although I certainly didn’t know the individual men, the last names were personal to me…  I knew Schultz’s and Gregoire’s from within our community.  At school Danny Mau, and Eric Leiser were my classmates at Herscher Grade school.  The names on the stone marker in the park were real to me because the Herscher families were real.

And because of that marker and that lesson…  from a young age, I knew that I had to be prepared in my life … at the right moment… to make the same large commitments.

This lesson- of preparedness, vigilence, faithfulness, and commitment in the face of evil- is wound tightly into the fabric of America.  On 9/11, yet again,  regular Americans showed our strengths…

On September 11, 2001: Todd Beamer was prepared to make his large commitment.  Flight 93 was 46 minutes into its transcontinental journey from east to west coasts, when it was hijacked by four terrorists.  Learning from cell phone calls that three other planes had already been crashed into buildings, a group gathered in the back of the plane.  Led by Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, and Mark Bingham, they  stormed the terrorists and crashed the plane into a farm field in Shacksville, PA.  This was the first battle of the war on terror.  Regular Americans, regular people led the fight.

Todd Beamer knew… that America is worth fighting for: The United States of America is the only nation ever conceived where man derives his rights from God and not another man!  Another man can take your rights away-  our rights are inalienable from our Creator. The United States of America is the longest experiment in self rule in the history of the world. We are the most generous, most beautiful, most loving and most welcoming nation. The United States of America is the Greatest Country in the History of the World.

Michael Benfante  and John Cerqueira worked on the 81st floor of Tower One at the world trade center.  The first plane crashed into Tower 1 twelve stories above them.  Michael and John rallied their employees and then immediately started down the stairs.  At the 68th floor, they came across a woman in a wheelchair and simply asked her if she needed help.  She did.  And they carried her down 68 flights of stairs. They spent 96 minutes carrying her out.  They all got out with six minutes to spare.

As Michael and John were carrying the wheel-chair bound woman down to safety, hundreds of New York City firemen were passing them in the stairwell- those firemen were going up into the building…

343 fire fighters died that day-  those firemen, they depend on us to finish the rest of their story.

Today, as I watch the video of the twin towers crumbling, I have anxiety that the firefighters never knew the End of the Story.  And, I want to tell them the good news-  the good news that America proactively responded to the attack.  That America was strong in the face of evil, that America was resilient, was courageous and that America was faithful.  That America defended freedom and liberty in our generation.

We The People, therefore, depend on the Sacrifice of the Dead And the Promise of the Living…

Defending America is the legacy of our families… My mother’s father, my grandfather defended America in World War II.  He left his farm, and his brand new wife-  who just happened to be two months pregnant and he became a tanker in the 7th Army, 3rd Amour Division.  And while he was fighting through the German streets, a sniper shot him in the head.  But my grandfather was wearing his steel pot helmet and the helmet held.  This dented helmet meant that my grandfather would survive the war, come back to his farm and father nine more children, including my mother.

And each of us, has had a role to play in the defense of America…  And in the Generational  Progress of America.

We The People, therefore, depend on the Sacrifice of the Dead And the Promise of the Living…

I recognize that all of our current advantages- the American Dream-  comes from the ultimate sacrifice paid by men and women who die in battle.  Men and women die so that peace can be lasting and so our society can be just. On September 11, 2001:  Lt Col Brian Birdwell worked at the Pentagon. In the minutes leading up to the attack on the Pentagon, he got up from his desk and went to the bathroom.  30 seconds later his office was destroyed by American Airlines Flight 77.  Brian Birdwell was saved by medics and rushed to Georgetown hospital.  He was visited by President George Bush a couple of days later.

This is what he told him, “Col. Birdwell, you are a hero and we are going to get the guys who did this.  This is not going to go unanswered.”

President Bush was faithful to his promise.

America went to war on terrorism.  The Taliban was ousted.  Abu Sayyaf was killed in the Philippines.  The Horn of Africa is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.   Saddam Hussein is dead.  Iraq has democratic elections.  There is an Arab Spring in the middle east. Al Qaeda is on the run, confused and dispersed.  And, Seal Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden.

We The People, therefore, depend on the Sacrifice of the Dead And the Promise of the Living…

Early in his life, Abraham Lincoln had lamented that all the great battles had already been waged and that there was nothing of significance left for his generation to lead on.  Later, Lincoln realized the folly of his thinking…

In our generation, the great questions and events of our day are being resolved now!  And again, as it has been throughout history-  it is our turn…  our turn to be heroes.

At a young age, what always gave me anxiety… about the six young men on the stone monument in the Big Park in Herscher, was that they never knew the End of the Story.  And, I have always wanted to tell them the good news-  the good news of how World War I ended.  Those six young men from Herscher-  They died defending liberty and freedom and they died never knowing whether or not they had died in vain.  Mau, Schultz, Gregoire, Leiser, Benville, and Gardner-  they died depending on us-  depending on us to finish the story for them.”

The 2,862 people who died on 911, the 5921 of our soldiers who have died fighting the global war on terror, the 374 firefighters in the Twin Towers;  Rick Rescorla; Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham…  they died depending on us-  depending on us to finish the story for them.

They did not die in vain.

We, we are finishing their stories…

Today, I see all of those men and women who died on 9/11… smiling down from heaven.  They are smiling on the sacrifices and courage of the men and women who serve our country today:  in the military, as police, as firemen, and as paramedics.  And, those men and women who died on 9/11 are smiling on us.  Never under-estimate our roles  as fathers and husbands, as wives and mothers, small business owners and entrepreneurs, as leaders of our communities and churches.

We are ordinary… regular… people and we have…. an extraordinary calling. America is great because the American People are Good.

Francis Scott Key wrote, “… Over the land of the free and the home of the brave”  question mark…

Our obligation is clear. Stand strong.  Be brave.  Defend Freedom.

On Flight 93, as Todd Beamer gathered the group to storm the cockpit-  there was an phone line left open and the operator heard Todd Beamers final words.

“Are you Guys ready…  Let’s Roll!”

God bless you.  God bless America.

Adam Andrzejewski September 11, 2011 Watseka, IL


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