Good morning – and thank you all for being here.
It is an honor to join so many friends and colleagues for today’s observance – as we mark the twelfth anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks ever carried out against the United States; remember the nearly 3,000 innocent people whose lives were lost; and pay tribute to the 72 brave law enforcement officers who were called, on that beautiful autumn morning, to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The events of September 11th, 2001, transformed our entire nation – and touched each of our lives. I know many of you experienced the human cost of these attacks in a deeply personal, and painful, way.
Especially this morning – here at the Department of Justice – as we lift up the memories of those who were taken from us so suddenly, we must also renew our shared commitment to the uniquely American values that have always defined this great nation – and must guide this Department’s work every single day.
This is the only fitting legacy we can build for the innocent victims of that terrible morning – the public servants and military personnel who lost their lives at the Pentagon; the workers who were struck down in their offices at the World Trade Center; the heroic passengers who brought down a hijacked airliner in a field in Pennsylvania; and so many first responders and ordinary citizens who ran toward burning buildings – and saved countless lives – as so many others were racing away.
We pay tribute to each of them, and to many others who have given their lives in the service of their country since 9/11 – from the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have fought on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan; to patriots like Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Ambassador Chris Stevens, who were taken from us just one year ago, in Libya.
Their valor reminds us of the quiet power of compassion. And their inspiring stories, and selfless actions, reaffirm the fact that this annual observance has always been about much more than the pain that was inflicted – and the buildings that were destroyed – twelve years ago today.
It’s about the extraordinary life that binds us together. It’s about the work that remains before us as we strive to make this nation not only safer – but stronger and more just – in the face of evolving global threats.
Most importantly, it’s about the commitment of Americans across the country who gather every year on this day – driven by both remembrance and resolve. Determined to honor the memories of those taken from us. And inspired by the heroism, the patriotism, and the bravery that shone through the smoke and wreckage of September 11th.
It was at 8:46 AM that morning that the first airliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. In remembrance of all who were lost in that moment, and in the hours that followed, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence.