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Congress Marks 7th Anniversary of September 11 Attacks


At the U.S. Capitol Thursday, members of Congress marked the seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida attacks on the United States with a ceremony and statements of remembrance. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, lawmakers gathered on the Capitol's west front, coinciding with other observances in New York City, at the Pentagon, and elsewhere honoring victims of the attacks and those who responded to them.

Leaders from both major parties offered tributes in memory of the nearly 3,000 who died in the attacks, and to the thousands of emergency, fire, law enforcement, and other workers who responded.

From the House of Representatives, the Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner:

PELOSI: "For them and for all, in Pennsylvania and New York, who suffered and died that day, we now observe a moment of silence."

BOEHNER: "Despite the scars, the attacks of 9/11 failed. They failed and today freedom and democracy are taking root in parts of the world where they once were only a far off dream."

From the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority leader Mitch McConnell:

"REID: "The terrorists hoped that our nation would crumble as quickly as the buildings they destroyed. But they soon discovered that America's resolve cannot be measured by the strength of our stone, our cement or our steel."

McCONNELL: "Seven years ago today, a small band of wicked men attacked America and all its represents. They had hoped we would remember that day and their terrible deeds with fear and confusion and doubt. And of course this day will always be a day of sadness for Americans. But September 11th has also become a day of solemn pride for our country, solemn pride in the memory of the courage and the sacrifice we saw."

Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recalled that the Capitol itself might have been destroyed by the al-Qaida terrorists who hijacked aircraft, but was spared along with the lives of those in it, by the heroism of passengers aboard United Flight 93 who battled terrorists before that plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

"We were spared that because seven years ago today a handful of ordinary Americans found they owned unthinkable heroism," said Steny Hoyer. "Because an airplane spiraled out of the sky into a Pennsylvania field 150 short miles away. They saved us. They saved that [Capitol] dome because of their courage, commitment and patriotism."

Later, lawmakers observed a moment of silence, and unanimously approved a resolution saying in part, that the U.S. remains steadfast in its determination to defeat, disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations and harness all elements of power, including military economic and diplomatic to do so.

While recognizing the men and women in the military, U.S. intelligence agencies and others defending against terrorism, the resolution also asserts in the strongest possible terms that the war on terrorists and terrorism is not a war on any nation, people or faith.

In separate statements on the House and Senate floors, lawmakers also pointed to the continuing threat posed by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Democrat Gary Ackerman heads the House Middle East subcommittee:

"Al-Qaida remains a serious threat to the U.S, in particular the al-Qaida leadership that was responsible for ordering the attacks on September 11, has been reconstituted in the tribal areas of Pakistan," said Gary Ackerman. "From that safe haven they continue to pose danger to the world and increasingly threaten American troops in Afghanistan."

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks Congress, under Republican and Democratic control, has provided hundreds of billions of dollars to strengthen U.S. security, bolster intelligence and anti-terrorist programs, and fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A report by the bipartisan congressional Joint Economic Committee, estimated that the total economic impact of both wars could reach $1.6 trillion by 2009.

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