You haven’t won. 10 years ago today, you tried to break the American Spirit. You thought that, by taking the lives of our loved ones and knocking down buildings, you could beat us. You thought that you could destroy our hope, our ideals, and our faith. You thought that you could win by killing American people and demolishing American symbols.
You were wrong. You didn’t break our spirit; you made us stronger. You made us mourn people we loved, but in mourning we discovered how much love we still have. You forced us to see our landscape swept of some of our landmarks, but we realized that we don’t need those landmarks to be Americans. You showed us your hope, ideals, and faith—your desire to force yourself on others; your inability to thrive without destruction—and that showed us that our hope, ideals, and faith are not knockable. You thought you won. You didn’t win.
Instead, you showed us how to persevere through tragedy, how to turn to neighbors and countrymen to give and receive support, how to mourn but carry on. You showed us how strong we really are. For every life you took that day, we have rebuilt lives. For every stone you knocked down, we have shored up our emotional monuments: the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the ideals of freedom and brotherhood; the strength of spirit and hope that will never desert us.
So, terrorists, remember this: You haven’t won. You will never win. And we will never forget the lessons you have taught us.
And on that note, I forgive you. Not on behalf of the whole nation, and not for your sake. I forgive you for what you did to me that day, and for my own sake; in forgiving you, I free myself to continue living. In forgiving you, I remove from you any speck of victory you had over me. I release the hold you may have had on my heart. In forgiving you, you lose, I win.