Today we acknowledge everything and everyone lost in an act of directed violence and hate nine years ago. To those of you who lost someone close, my heart goes out to you.
It's true what they say: freedom is not free. But we must all understand that the answer is not to respond in kind - with more violence and hatred. We must have tolerance for the beliefs of others, no matter how strongly we disagree with them or how little we understand them. And if their behavior becomes so intolerable that we are moved to action, we can and must respond without inflicting death and destruction.
Of course, when it comes to international decisions, you and I don't make these choices. Our responsibility in this realm is to choose leaders who will act wisely and, hopefully, make the decisions we would have made ourselves if given the opportunity.
We do, though, have the choice and the responsibility to treat each other with compassion and understanding. In many ways, people are formed through the manner in which they are treated by others. So let us constantly strive to treat each other with dignity and respect. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me? Perhaps.