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Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Thank you for your condolences and your support. And through you, Madam Chairwoman, I wish to thank my colleagues around this table for the condolences they have conveyed through me to the families of the many Americans who lost their lives in yesterday's tragedies.
Yesterday will always be remembered as a dark day in America's history. The American people, their institutions, their symbols, and even the idea of a free society were attacked by evil. We were attacked not for what we did but for who we are - a free, open society, and what we believe - that freedom is the birthright of all humanity.
The photos we all saw yesterday are seared in our minds. Americans who did nothing more than get up and go to work or board an airplane had their lives snuffed out or forever altered. The horror they endured and the pain this has inflicted on their families will never be forgotten. Yesterday's tragedies profoundly injured every American. Our emotions are brittle and our feelings are raw.
While we saw evil visit our country yesterday, we also saw America at its best. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, civil servants, and just ordinary citizens responded to the needs they saw. In New York City alone, more than 300 of these brave souls gave their lives rescuing others. It takes a special kind of person to enter a burning building to save a life. Yesterday we saw that kind of courage displayed over and over.
America is a religious nation. But it is neither Christian, nor Jewish nor Islamic. It is this very diversity which unites us. But we need to be very clear: The ones who committed these evil deeds represent no religion - they represent savagery.
Today, I can't tell you who visited this evil upon America, but the search is underway to find them. When they are found, they will be punished. And as President Bush said last night, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."
America is grateful for the condolences of all the states seated around this table in our hour of tragedy. When the culprits are identified and the time comes to act to confront them, we look forward to, indeed we expect, your support in that hour as well.
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