Our leaders respond

Our leaders respond by Sen. Tom Daschle Editor's note: South Dakota's political leaders were quick to respond following the terrorist attacks on the United States Sept. 11. In reflection, we share their messages from a year ago.

A time for greatness

by Sen. Tom Daschle

It is clear from their painstaking plans that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon thought they had covered every detail. But there is one crucial detail they overlooked: Hardship and heartbreak are not new to Americans. As individuals and as a nation, we have endured great challenge and struggle, yet none has ever broken us.

When tragedy strikes, Americans sift through the ashes of despair to find faith, courage and an unshakable commitment to freedom, democracy and each other.

Our greatness in times of tragedy is what distinguishes us as a nation. We saw that greatness in the passengers of a doomed airliner who defied their murderers and prevented even greater destruction. We saw it in the police and firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others, and in the rescue workers who worked for days without sleep searching for even one more survivor.

We continue to see that greatness in millions of Americans who are contributing to disaster relief funds, and the millions more who wait hours to donate blood.

The cowards who attacked our nation could not see this about us because they were blinded by their own fanatical hatred of us.

Now is a time for mourning and remembrance. It is time for shock and anger. But most of all, it is a time for greatness. We can't all take part in the rescue efforts in New York or Washington.

But there is much each of us can do: If you own an American flag, raise it. If you can afford to, contribute to the disaster relief effort. Light a candle. Offer a prayer for those who lost their lives, a shoulder to the families and friends they've left behind, and a kind word to those around you. Fight hatred at home as vehemently as you would hatred from abroad. Whether by birth or by choice, we are all Americans. Refuse to let the terrorists divide us.

When the time is right, we will respond decisively and punish those who committed these diabolical acts. Until then, be patient and support President Bush as our government navigates through these difficult days.

Whatever differences we may have on other matters, they are nothing compared to our common love for America and our common desire to bring the killers to justice. Have hope � know that we will come through this even stronger than before. Above all, go back to your daily lives. Show the terrorists they failed by embracing with renewed vigor the freedom and economic opportunity they would destroy.

Ultimately, that may be the most patriotic thing any of us can do.

One of the demolition workers in New York had it right. "They hit the World Trade Center. They hit the Pentagon. But they missed America." We will win this war against terrorism because, inside of nearly every American is a passionate patriotism and a fierce determination to protect the people and values we love. That is the fundamental reality the terrorists did not understand. It is our greatness, and now is the time to show it.

A cowardly act of war

by Sen. Tim Johnson

While our enemy may not be another nation in the traditional sense, the strike against America was, in fact, an act of war. Our nation now needs to demonstrate the same kind of moral clarity, courage, and resolve that characterized the World War II generation. We can�t let this heinous, cowardly act go unpunished. We must respond in a spirit not of revenge, but of justice. Our enemies must understand that justice can be severe.

We must make careful, but swift, determinations about the guilt of our enemy. And we must make it very clear that we do not distinguish between terrorists and those who provide a safe haven for them. Anything short of the capture and punishment of these people will only serve to encourage more terrorism against the United States and all other liberty loving nations.

The United States and our democratic allies throughout the world needs to make substantial improvements in its anti-terrorist strategies. That includes far better human intelligence gathering and the infiltration of terrorist organizations so that plans for violence against innocent people can be intercepted and stopped. It means improved airport and air transportation security. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will do all that I can to make certain that adequate financial resources are made available for all of these efforts.

It is difficult to understand the motives of anyone who would use innocent people to carry out such a cowardly, senseless attack on other, innocent people. We must recommit ourselves to the ideals of freedom and the rule of law that have governed our nation for more than 200 years. The people responsible for these heinous acts must be tracked down, apprehended, and brought to justice as swiftly as possible.

Responding with America's finest qualities

by Rep. John Thune

The world changed last Tuesday (Sept. 11) for all Americans. We watched in horror as the airplanes crashed, the buildings collapsed and the fires raged in New York and Washington. Our prayers go out to the families whose loved ones perished in the attack, to those trapped in the rubble, and to those risking their lives in the search for survivors.

I was, and still am, outraged at these cowardly and despicable attacks on America�s freedoms and way of life. Clearly, these terrorists do not share our values, nor do they respect the lives of those who hold freedom dear.

In the past, we�ve witnessed the effects of terrorism and war in faraway places on our television screens. Tuesday, we experienced them firsthand on American soil. A determined enemy has declared war on our nation and that for which it stands. The freedoms we enjoy and the virtues of our people have been attacked and we must respond. We must create a world where our children can live free of such senseless acts.

To respond to this tragedy, we will need to draw on three of America�s finest qualities. The first is American compassion. We have already seen an enormous outpouring of support and aid for the victims of this tragedy. For Americans, times of great suffering have always been accompanied by acts of great compassion. The American people through their government have acted as well. Working with the president, Congress has already passed an emergency spending bill to help pay for the rescue and recovery efforts.

The second is American unity. The incredible power of a unified nation is evident in Washington where members of Congress, regardless of party, have been inspired by the unity of the American people. Partisanship has been replaced by a singleness of purpose. The partisan rancor so often evident in Washington has given way to a determination to do whatever it takes to protect every American today, tomorrow and in the future. The last is American justice. I believe I speak for every South Dakotan in saying that these terrorists have messed with the wrong country. These bullies have picked on the wrong kid. They have murdered our innocent brothers and sisters and we will make it right. We�re coming after them and there will be justice.

I�m proud today to be a South Dakotan because I know that each and every one of us stands ready to support our president and defend and protect American citizens and American freedoms. The world will know that America is strong. There will be a reckoning.

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