Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the
Flight 93 Memorial Ceremony

Shanksville, Pennsylvania
September 11, 2005

It is a privilege for me to pay tribute to the heroism of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

The forty victims whose lives we celebrate here are similar to thousands of others being honored today in the private thoughts and prayers of families across America and around the world.

They were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. They were someone's best friend, big sister, or beautiful child.

They were innocent lives taken by incredible evil.

But these forty brave patriots also began a call to action that helped turn our Nation's darkest moment into one of our finest hours.


I wasn't in the White House that morning. I was preparing to deliver a speech in Norfolk, Virginia when I heard that we were under attack. And I spent the next several hours of September 11th, as so many others did across the country – stranded, stuck, trying to simultaneously understand the events of the day and deal with the practical difficulties of returning home.

When I got back to Washington in the afternoon, I went to the White House to track events and then assist the President when he landed on the South Lawn and spoke to the Nation from the Oval Office.

It is not lost on me – or anyone else that worked in the White House – that it's likely only because of the people we honor today, that such a course of events was possible.

Without knowing who or what they were saving, the passengers on United Flight 93 sacrificed their lives for others. And without knowing that their actions would galvanize their fellow citizens, these brave men and women embodied the spirit of America.

From there, we followed their lead. Their resilience became our resolve. Their rallying cry became our call to arms. Their ultimate sacrifice became our ongoing promise – to protect our Nation.

Four years removed from the shocking hours of horror that unfolded here, it's comforting to remember those terrifying moments in the context of the things that make America such a wonderful place to live. After all, it's the protection of those cherished ideals – I imagine – that provided the courage necessary to overtake that cockpit.

But as we pause to reflect on the images of September 11th, it's important that a return to life as normal in America does not mean a regression to complacency.

No amount of time is adequate to erase the sorrow we felt on that day or fade the memories of lost loved ones. And neither should distance from those events dull our sense of urgency for the task begun by the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

In the time that has passed since that tragic day, we've transformed our Nation to cope with the new realities of terrorism. But President Bush knows – as I do – that every day that passes in silence is an opportunity to redouble our efforts and renew our commitment in this ongoing battle against an evil enemy. Our Nation must always be ready to roll.


The list of names we hear on this day reminds us not only of a group that left us too soon…but of the legacy they left behind. Ours is an inheritance of action in the face of adversity and courage in the course of sacrifice.

As stewards of this legacy, we have a responsibility to remember – not just today, but every day – that America is the home of heroes.

Thank you. May God bless you and your families and may He continue to bless the United States of America.