Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
September 11th Remembrance
September 11, 2003


   Thank you, Paul.

   On this day, two years ago, more than 3,000 American lives were lost to the forces of hate and terror. Two years have passed, but words cannot express fully how our world has changed. We share with the friends and families who lost loved ones a consciousness of suffering and the pangs of loss.

   Two years have passed, and already, some Americans may have forgotten how we felt that day. Yet it was only three days ago that the 343rd firefighter to die in the World Trade Center attack was buried.

   A vial of Michael Ragusa's blood…all that his family had…was wrapped and placed in a coffin for burial. We mourn again the loss of a young hero…and we remember.

   America MUST remember, and we WILL remember. In the war against terror, we will not falter and we will not fail.

   For two years, our nation has answered the challenge of terrorists.

   We are locked in a struggle between good and evil, and we will not retreat.

   We have endured in our commitment to preserving life and liberty, and we will not waiver.

   We have united as a nation, and our resolve will not falter.

   We have achieved quiet, steady progress in our global war against terrorism.

   Our enemies believed us to be a complacent, inward-looking people. They struck a blow that they hoped we would not overcome.

   But we have overcome. And like so many challenges in our nation's past, suffering and trial has confirmed the true spirit of America.

   We are not a nation with a fragile, prideful spirit. We are a resilient people. We humbly accept that our greatest gift … liberty … was not gained by our own actions, but is the gift of our Creator. Liberty cannot be taken … it can only be surrendered.

   As it was for the generations that came before us, it is our duty to protect and preserve that liberty for future generations. For this reason, we must never let September 11th become a distant memory.

   We must remember those men and women half a world away who are fighting for freedom, sacrificing their lives to defend our lives and liberty.

   Two years ago, the terrorists targeted our liberty as well as our respect for human dignity and equality. These are the high ideals that emerged from the rubble untarnished and gleaming anew. These are the ideals the terrorists target to this day.

   All of us here at the Department of Justice have been called to be part of this great struggle. We have been called to preserve American lives and American liberty.

   On behalf of the American people, I thank you for dedicating your lives to ensuring that our nation remains safe and strong and free.

   As our nation recalls our great loss, let us once again recommit ourselves to those values that define us. Let us renew our commitment to life, liberty, and equality for all people.

   In the challenges that lie ahead, let us carry these commitments close to our heart so we may leave a better world for those who follow.

   Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.