Three years ago today, the world witnessed an unprecedented attack on the civilized world. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shocked men and women throughout the world and ended the lives of citizens from over 90 countries, including nine from Taiwan. Memory of these events fuels America's continuing efforts to defend its citizens and our allies by stripping terrorist organizations of their ability to operate and to attract new recruits. \nThe images of that day remain etched in the minds of all who saw them. To many Americans, Sept. 11 still seems like yesterday. I remember watching the horrific TV footage in my office at the State Department, then evacuating the building and seeing the smoke rise from the Pentagon just across the Potomac River. On that day, al-Qaeda's hijack crews stole the future from nearly 3,000 innocent people from all around the world and devastated the lives of their families and friends. They murdered infants cradled in their mothers' arms and grandparents flying to visit their loved ones. And now as plans move forward in Manhattan to build a memorial at Ground Zero, as well as a new office tower -- the 1,776-feet (541m) tall, symbolic of the year of America's independence -- we honor the souls lost that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. We pray for the families and loved ones still struggling with their loss and left with only memories. \nAnd let there be no doubt, we gather strength from our memories of those who died that day -- and remain vigilant against those who still seek to harm us and our friends around the world. \nAmericans are well aware that terrorism was not invented on Sept. 11. Far too many countries around the world have endured tragic attacks for decades and even centuries. The Sept. 11 attacks, however, demonstrated that today's terrorists intend to strike to the limits of their power. During the past three years, al-Qaeda's capabilities have been reduced by relentless international action on the law enforcement, military, intelligence, diplomatic and financial fronts. But, \nal-Qaeda's desire to kill on \na massive scale remains unchanged. And this danger is increased when outlaw \nregimes build or acquire weapons of mass destruction and maintain ties to terrorist groups. \nTempered by the tragedy \nof Sept. 11, America is determined to face these new threats, not ignore them or simply wait for future attacks. In the post-Sept. 11 environment, the US is working with its allies to reconfigure national and international security arrangements in order to prevail over terrorists as well as the states and organizations supporting them. \nOur objective is a lasting, democratic peace in which nations can develop and prosper free from the threat of terror. We are helping to build a hopeful future for people who have suffered for far too long. We will not allow troubled regions to remain mired in despair and violence. \nAl-Qaeda and its affiliates offer no constructive vision for the world. Their sole mission has been to destroy what others have built through hard work and commitment. Our common international efforts to defeat the terrorists, therefore, serve to provide the global security upon which free and peaceful nations can advance their social, cultural and economic goals. \nThe US and its missions worldwide are working to lay the foundation for peace by supporting the development of democracy. We support the hope and progress that democracy offers as an alternative to tyranny and terror. Quite simply, in democratic societies, men and women do not adopt mass murder as a national policy; they turn their hearts and minds to building better lives for themselves and for their families through education and hard work. Democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps or kill innocent men, women and children. Rather, they raise their citizens up, using their energy and resources to foster the rule of law and seek to expand opportunities for trade and other exchanges. \nAmericans pause with you today to remember the fallen from over 90 countries worldwide who died on Sept. 11, 2001. We also remember their friends and relatives whose lives were changed forever. We replay in our minds the images of that horrific day, but we also embrace new images of hope. We remember the worldwide outpouring of sorrow and solidarity -- in town plazas and at US embassies -- that were the seeds of the international campaign launched against terrorism in the wake of the attacks. We are committed to continuing our work with the international community toward the day when the \nterrorists' messages fall flat, when their wallets run dry and when their recruits abandon them to take advantage of opportunities made possible by those who would build, not destroy. \nDavid Keegan is acting director at the American Institute in Taiwan.
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