From CNN: The attacks of September 11, 2001, reshaped the face of the nation and the course of history. Our lives and the lives of those to come — not just here in New York or the United States, but around the globe — have changed forever.
The date, September 11, will forever evoke recollections of unimaginable tragedy, of lives callously lost and brutally cut short and of unspeakable horror and sorrow in the hearts and minds of all of us. We must never forget the depths of inhumanity to which terrorist fanatics are willing to sink in the name of their depraved cause as they seek to destroy the very principles of freedom and democracy on which this great nation was founded.
That is why each and every September 11, we as Americans pay tribute to those who lost their lives that fateful day. We gather in unity and dignity to honor the freedoms that we have fought for in the past, the freedoms our loved ones have died for, and those freedoms that we continue to fight for today.
Remembering that day is not a choice but our solemn obligation — on September 11, 2001, there were 2,749 heroes lost; seven buildings destroyed and, with their collapse, 30 million square feet of commercial office space was lost or damaged; 60,000 jobs disappeared; 65,000 commuters were dislocated by the destruction; five subway lines and 12 subway stations were affected or closed; and 1.6 million tons of smoking debris filled the World Trade Center site.
In the following months, lower Manhattan continued to suffer additional losses. Commercial and residential occupancy rates dropped drastically, tourism evaporated, and the quality of life plunged. Lower Manhattan looked set to lose both its residential community and its position as the financial capital of the world.
But today, a mere five years later, Lower Manhattan continues on the path to renewal. Lower Manhattan has not only retained its distinction as the financial capital of the world, but has become the fastest-growing area in all of New York City. We are making significant investments to position it as the premier 21st century central business district — a mixed-use community, vibrant day and night — where companies want to locate, families want to live, and visitors come to enjoy.
For the first time in more than five years, the city’s economic growth rate has exceeded the national growth rate, there are 10,000 more residents downtown, tourism is at an all-time high, and financial and insurance industries, which suffered the worst losses after September 11, are now leading the growth downtown.
On the World Trade Center site, all of the signature elements of the brilliant Libeskind Master Site Plan are under construction — the Freedom Tower, the Memorial and the WTC Calatrava Transportation Hub, and we recently opened 7 World Trade Center, which is nearly 60 percent leased.
The Master Site Plan, shaped by an unprecedented public process, is on its way to bringing cultural and commercial space to the previously devastated site where state-of-the art transportation infrastructure is being created with a vast and fitting memorial as its centerpiece. A memorial that future generations will look at with pride and honor, knowing that we rightfully and respectfully paid tribute to all those lost.
As you recall September 11, always remember that we were attacked not for what we do wrong but for what we do right. Remember the spirit of that day — the day America showed what makes us a great people and a great nation; the day the true character of our nation triumphed over unspeakable evil; the day that freedom and democracy prevailed yet again over oppression and tyranny.