By U.S. Rep. BRIAN BAIRD
This is a copy of the speech I gave on the floor following the recent tragedies. The actual words may have differed slightly when I spoke them, but this is very close to what I said. I want you all to know what a privilege it is to serve with you and to serve this great nation. I am proud of each and every one of you and how you have responded and conducted yourselves in this demanding time.
Yesterday, the news in our nation and around the world was about terrorism. The acts of a few crazed individuals who gave their lives in order to take the lives of others.
But today, and in the weeks and years to come, the story should not be about terrorism. It should be about heroism. The selfless acts of thousands who risked and gave their lives to save the lives of others.
The story should be about the heroism of the firefighters who entered those burning buildings knowing full well that the buidlings could, and very likely would, collapse upon them.
It should be about the heroism of the police and rescue units who raced to the scene to protect the public and were crushed in the rubble.
It should be about the heroism of the passengers on the jet who fought their hijackers and probably saved this building and the lives of the people in this room tonight.
The story should be about the heroism of thousands of volunteers who raced to the scene to offer whatever assistance they could.
It should be about the heroism of the men and women in our armed forces who are on alert today and prepared to respond to those who did this.
It should be about the heroism of our staff who came to work today and come here every day knowing full well that we are all targets.
Tonight, we are speaking for those who lost their lives and cannot be with us. And we are speaking of our grief for their families.
We are also speaking for the hundreds of thousands of our constituents who cannot be here but who share in the grief and outrage.
More than that, we are speaking for the oldest constitutional democratic republic in the history of this Earth.
And we say tonight to those who would attack this great nation, attack our freedom.
You will never succeed. You will never succeed.
Even if you had managed to destroy this majestic building and kill each and every one of us.
This nation will persevere, the spirit of freedom will persevere, for it is stronger than any terror. If you killed everyone of us, others would rise up, raise the torch of liberty again and defend our constitution and our people.
The light of liberty will continue to burn brightly, bravely, and proudly forever, and this great nation will continue to stand as the beacon of freedom for the entire world.
Let every American show our unity today and in the days to come by displaying the symbol of that freedom, the American Flag, from their homes, and businesses.
Together, let us unite to remember those we have lost, and carry on the torch of liberty.