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Bond says victory in Afghanistan is best tribute to 9/11 victims

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 11, 2009 - Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., said Friday that the best way to honor the memories of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is "by finishing the job in Afghanistan and defeating terrorists who are bent on death and destruction."

In remarks on the Senate floor, Bond, who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the horror that the United States felt when terrorism reached American shores on Sept. 11, 2001, should never be forgotten.

He urged President Barack Obama, whose attention this week has been on health care, to "refocus his attention and that of the American people on achieving victory in Afghanistan."

"To repeat," Bond said, "terrorism is the premier challenge of our time. If we fail to conquer this challenge, nothing else will matter much, not even health care reform."

Noting that "the problems we face in Afghanistan today are in many ways more complex than those we faced on Sept. 12, 2001," Bond urged that the United States not repeat earlier mistakes and leave the job there unfinished.

"Unfortunately, our country has a history of abandoning Afghanistan," he said

"Sadly, under administrations of both parties, America has repeatedly ignored the lessons of history, repeatedly turning our backs on Afghanistan. It is no wonder the people of Afghanistan doubt our commitment to their cause."

To make headway, Bond urged that the military follow the approach recommended by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, concentrating on "smart power" and an emphasis on counter-insurgency.

"Declaring defeat in Afghanistan today would signal to the families of those who died on Sept. 11 and in the years since in service to their country that their loved ones died in vain," he said. "These are not the signals our great nation should ever send.

"Instead, we must declare unequivocally our courage, resolve, and patience to allow our troops to succeed. This, alone, is the signal America should send."

In a statement, Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., called the events of 9/11 "the most devastating day this country has ever encountered."

"The events of that September morning that inspired so many heroic acts and sacrifices from firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and countless others continue to reverberate with all across this nation," Burris said. "We are forever grateful for these valorous men and women and their unparalleled courage. Their actions in a time of unprecedented crisis will never be forgotten.

"While we commemorate this day and honor those who have fallen, we know that there is still much work to be done. This anniversary serves as a reminder to all Americans that though we continue to grapple with contentious issues and dangerous threats from outside our borders, unity among all of us is essential in ensuring that the United States continues to be the beacon of hope and opportunity now, and in the future."

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, released this statement:

"This Sept. 11, as in years past, we honor and celebrate the lives of those who were taken from us by terrorists who hate the United States because of who we are and the freedom for which we stand.

"It's a day to be grateful for our freedoms, thankful for our security, and respectful of the sacrifices that have been made to defend them both.

"Generations will remember the 11th of September by recalling where they were that morning as our history was violently reshaped before their very eyes.

"Eight years later we still vividly remember the lessons we learned and the determination we had to make sure these events never happened again.

"As Americans, we must never let the passage of time erode our respect for this day, and Congress must never lose sight of our commitment to keep America safe."

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, released this statement:

“Eight years ago today we watched as our country was ruthlessly attacked by a group bent on destroying our way of life. That day showed the world that the people of the United States of America are not easily shaken and are prepared to protect our rights and freedom.

“On Patriot Day, we pause to remember the victims and the loved ones left behind. We ask that God will continue to watch over our country and the men and women who are serving in harm’s way to protect the rights of all Americans.”

Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, said in a statement:

“Today marks the 8th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. No one who lived through that day will ever forget it. While the U.S. has endured terrorist actions before, both foreign and domestic, the magnitude of 9/11 was unprecedented, and it left us, at least temporarily, with a weakened sense of our own national security.

"Combined with the pain of loved ones lost, it was truly one of our worst days as a nation. Ironically, it was also one of our best days. The knowledge of what the passengers of Flight 93 did to save others, the selfless sacrifices of our first responders, the professionalism of our air traffic controllers, the people lining up for hours to donate blood, and the thousands of other small personal gestures made for strangers in need that day – these images are as indelible as the twin towers collapsing.

"Ultimately, 9/11 is a symbol of the great resiliency of the United States. Despite our differences, we will come together as a nation to preserve our freedom and our way of life. Remember that today as you think about those that lost their lives eight years ago. Remember that every day.”

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.