I find myself in one of the most famous cities in the world, on the memorial of the most infamous day in modern history. Today, seventeen years ago, the lives of virtually every citizen of the Earth were changed. That change began with 2,996 people killed on the aircraft and in the twin towers and Pentagon buildings that were struck that day. As the war on terror was launched, hundreds of thousands more would be lost as the paradigm of daily reality shifted for countries all around the world. Whether your country was affected by a terror attack, was host to conflict between war fighters, whether you are from a coalition nation and sent your sons and daughters to fight, whether you lost your family to extremist ideas or whether you were just inconvenienced by additional security screening and delays that continue today, the events of September 11, 2001 have affected us all.
Today, as much as ever, the resolve to stand up to terror and aggression from those who challenge the right to freedom must remain strong. The events of 9/11 demonstrated with stark brutality, perhaps as no other event in human history has, that we must never take for granted the right to freedom, security and liberty so many of us enjoy as citizens of the good Earth.
As a commonwealth citizen my country fights for the Queen. In America they fight for their flag, for the right to freedom and to uphold a constitution hard won over generations. Whether you are a pacifist or prefer not to think of the hate that exists in the world, whatever your stance on US politics, there can be no doubt. On that fateful day, seventeen years ago, the foundations of human liberty were shaken to their core. Such an act can never be allowed to go unchallenged.
So, like my American brothers and sisters, I stand up for my right to live in peace and freedom and will defend that at any cost as have many thousands of others who have answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of these ideals. No individual or fiction is worthy of this commitment, but the moral value of human freedom from oppression and fundamentalist ideals is transcendent and must be front and centre of our consciousness always. We project this notion with flags, uniforms, codes and cultures, but at its heart we believe in a truth that makes us distinct from other species that inhabit the Earth.
September 11 should remind us not only of the tremendous horror of that day and the evil that people are capable of, but of what it means to be human and that which is most important, the freedom to live in harmony and indeed, the right to live at all.