Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Susan Collins, has released this statement on the seven-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against our nation:

“Seven years ago, a beautiful late-summer morning was suddenly transformed into one of unimaginable horror. We pause to remember those whose lives were taken on that terrible day. This solemn anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, is dedicated to the deepest human emotions of loss, of sacrifice, and of resolve.

“In Maine, we remember Robert and Jackie Norton of Lubec, a devoted retired couple who boarded Flight 11 to celebrate a son’s wedding on the West Coast. We remember James Roux of Portland, an Army veteran and a devoted father, a passenger on Flight 175 on his way to a business meeting in California. We remember Robert Schlegel of Gray who was still celebrating his recent promotion to the rank of Commander in the United States Navy, and still settling into his new office at the Pentagon, an office that is believed to be the point of impact for Flight 77.

“We join all Americans in remembering each of the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day; lives of accomplishment, contribution, and promise. Each loss leaves a wound in the hearts of families and friends that can never be fully healed.

“September 11th was not just a day of personal tragedy. It was an attack on the United States, an attack on freedom, an attack on civilization. We must never forget what was lost, and what remains at stake. We must pledge to do all that we can to prevent future attacks. The fundamental obligation of government is to protect its people, and since September 11th, we have done much to meet that obligation.

“We created the Department of Homeland Security to provide a unifying core to the enormous effort of detecting and preventing terrorist attacks, assessing and protecting our vulnerabilities, and improving our response to disasters of all types. Based on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the Homeland Security Committee, which I chaired, brought about the most comprehensive reform of our intelligence community in more than a half century so that the trail of “dots” terrorists leave behind as they plan, train, and organize will never again be left unconnected. We have strengthened our borders, and increased protection of our seaports and vulnerable chemical facilities. We have provided vital equipment and training to our first responders—dedicated emergency personnel who protect our communities.

“We have taken many steps to secure our nation. None was easily taken. All were accompanied by controversy, conflict, and differences of opinion. Yet, when we worked together in a bipartisan manner, we achieved progress.

“Our Homeland Security Committee continues to address our nation’s security vulnerabilities and the threats to the safety of our people. Among our recent endeavors, we have addressed such dangers as nuclear terrorism and the rise of homegrown terrorism. We have taken steps to better protect our homeland against improvised explosive devices and to secure our information technology networks. After the thwarted terrorist plot to attack soldiers at Ft. Dix last summer, we enacted legal protections for alert citizens who, in good faith, report suspicious activity to authorized officials.

“Seven years ago, in what seemed like a moment, September 11th was transformed from a day like any other day into one that, for as long as our nation stands, will stand alone. The loss we relive this day reminds us of the value of all that we must protect. The heroism reminds us of the unconquerable spirit of the American people. Our accomplishments remind us that we can meet any challenge with decisive action. As long as we keep the meaning of this day of remembrance in our hearts, we will meet the challenges that lie ahead.”