But this year, we remember as well those who did not wear the uniform: the heroes of 9/11, those passengers who forced down the hijacked airliner in Pennsylvania, the countless firemen, policemen, and rescue workers who led so many to safety from the twin towers and in the end lost their own lives.
As I reflect on what they did, the question I still cannot answer is, why did Osama bin Laden believe that attack would help his cause? Did he believe we would be frightened into submission? Did he believe we would admire him for killing innocent people? Did he believe we would admire those who committed suicide in order to kill the innocent?
Unfortunately, he misunderstood what it is we mark on Memorial Day, and any American could have told him. We don't ask our young people to commit suicide. And we prosecute those who kill the innocent.
No, those we honor on Memorial Day are those who lost their lives so others might live. Sometimes, they have worn the uniform, and sometimes they haven't. But theirs are the lives we celebrate.
Americans have always been willing to come to the rescue of each other, and we do not forget those who kept that promise even at the cost of their own lives. They are our heroes.
The heroes that people choose are what define them as a nation. Let others know, and may we never forget, that is the core of America's strength.
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