Justice News

Attorney General Eric Holder at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial September 11 Ceremony
United States
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Craig, for your kind introduction, and for all the work you do on behalf of our nation’s police officers and families.

Several months ago, I stood here at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at the annual candlelight vigil. That night I had the solemn honor of leading the recitation of the names of officers who had been killed in the line of duty. On that somber evening, we dedicated the names of those heroes to these hallowed walls, and to our grateful memory.

This morning, I once again have the sacred privilege of publicly acknowledging the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives on behalf of all of us.

Eight years ago today, the clear skies over New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania were pierced by acts of hatred that we will never be able to fully comprehend. Nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered that day, each one an unknowing martyr to the cause of freedom.

Seventy-two of those Americans were the officers whose names stand here in silent testimony to the type of public servants they truly were. These were extraordinary men and women who wanted nothing more than to serve their communities, and who went to work each day with the full realization that they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their neighbors and their nation.

We will always remember the bravery they consistently demonstrated – not just on September 11, 2001, but on each and every day of their careers – not only because their names are etched on these walls, but because their deeds are etched in our hearts.

For me, as it is for so many Americans, today is also personal. My brother William is a retired Port Authority police officer, and my family and I will always be reminded of the courage his colleagues demonstrated, and the price so many of them paid in service to their country. My admiration, respect, and support for the men and women in blue is always at the front of my mind. But on September 11, I join you in taking special pause to reflect not only on what we lost, but to also remember what we gained from the deeds of these special heroes.

In the years since that terrible day, the Department of Justice has worked hard to strengthen its ability both to prevent terrorism and to ensure that terrorists answer for their crimes. I pledge to you today that as Attorney General, I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my colleagues in law enforcement, the military, and the intelligence community to combat terrorism at every level and in every way so that we can keep the American people safe. The people responsible for those horrific attacks on September 11, 2001 will all be held accountable – this is my promise. We owe nothing less to those we lost, to the families who grieve, and to a nation whose principles inspire the hopes and dreams of millions around the world.

Thank you.