Thank you Rear Admiral Fields for that kind introduction.
Today, we look back and we look forward.
It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Images from that day still seem so recent and so vivid in all of our minds.
Despite the horror and devastation of September 11, Americans throughout the country demonstrated just how well this nation can respond to the most serious of crises. If it were not for the outstanding and heroic efforts of U.S. government and military personnel, state and local governments, the private sector, and emergency response teams, the consequences of the September 11 terrorist attacks would have been far, far worse than they were.
Although the emotional and psychological wounds inflicted on September 11 have not yet fully healed, we can take pride in what we - as a government and as a nation - have accomplished in the past year to secure our country and our economy, and to protect the health, safety, and well being of the American people. I would like to highlight some of these impressive accomplishments for you.
In the weeks and months after September 11, the Secretary of State led efforts to pull together a broad-based, multilateral coalition to fight terrorism internationally in a coordinated manner with U.S. friends and allies. The Secretary of Defense oversaw the mobilization of the military for action in Afghanistan, where the men and women of the U.S. armed forces soundly defeated the Taliban and freed the people of Afghanistan from their oppressors. Our intelligence and law enforcement personnel have dedicated many hours to tracking down al Qaeda operatives throughout the world. And we have made significant progress in arresting prominent terrorist leaders and shutting down international financing of terrorist activities.
On the home front, immediately after September 11, the President created the Office of Homeland Security and appointed Governor Tom Ridge to coordinate the Administration's efforts to protect the homeland. This office has accomplished a great deal, including developing the first ever National Strategy for Homeland Security to guide and prioritize federal homeland security efforts in the years to come. This office also has been instrumental in developing the President's plan to create a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security to consolidate all federal homeland security activities under one roof. The President's plan has received widespread support, and we are working hard to ensure that the Congress enacts the authorizing legislation as soon as possible.
There have been many other accomplishments since September 11 in diverse fields such as border security, transportation security, bioterrorism defense, infrastructure protection, cyber security, and emergency preparedness and response. To take just a few, for example, the Department of Justice has overseen efforts to tighten up visa procedures and enforce our visa laws. The U.S. Customs Service has led efforts to enhance trade security by working with major ports outside of the United States to ensure the safety of cargo destined for this country. We have taken critical steps to increase the safety of air travel, including strengthening security procedures and expanding the air marshal program. And we have taken steps to remember and compensate those that lost family members and loved ones at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, and at the World Trade Center.
I could go on for some time discussing all of our accomplishments as a country since the horrible events of September 11. There can be no doubt about our energy, our courage, and our resilience as a people.
In a moment, Deputy Secretary Bodman will speak more about the specific efforts undertaken by the Department of Commerce to strengthen the security of our homeland and make our workplace - and our country - safer for all of us. So let me conclude now by asking that we never forget those who perished in service to our country. Let us honor their memory by dedicating ourselves to remain strong and united in the face of terrorism, and more determined than ever to defeat it.