Justice News

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Justice Department Survivor Tree Plaque Unveiling to Mark the 15th Anniversary of September 11
Washington, DC
United States
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Friday, September 9, 2016

Remarks as prepared for Delivery 

Good morning and thank you all for being here.  It is a privilege to stand with this group of friends and colleagues as we gather to observe this solemn occasion.  At this time, I ask you to please join me in a moment of silence.

Thank you.  Fifteen years ago this Sunday, our world changed forever.   September 11th, 2001 dawned clear and bright, but was soon clouded by the horror of the deadliest terrorist attack ever perpetrated on American soil.   In a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania; at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan; and at the Pentagon, just across the Potomac from where we stand, nearly 3,000 innocent people – including more than 70 members of our law enforcement family – were killed in an appalling act of malice and hatred.  Today, we come together once again to mourn their deaths; to celebrate their lives; and to honor their legacy. 

A decade and a half has elapsed since 9/11, but the passage of time has not dimmed the memory of those we lost.  It has not erased from our minds the many acts of courage that brought light into that dark day.  And it has not weakened our resolve to stay true to our highest ideals, to hold fast to our most cherished values and to continue following the course charted by our oldest principles.  Every day, the men and women of the Department of Justice display that resolve when you fight to protect the weak from the strong, for fundamental fairness in our markets and for equal opportunity for all.  And on this day of remembrance, let me also thank the terrorism prosecutors in our U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the members of our National Security Division and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, for all you to do defend the United States against an enemy that still has us in their sights.

Last year, as a sign of our pledge to remember – and as a token of our determination to persevere – we planted this sapling, which was seeded from a pear tree that stood on the World Trade Center plaza in 2001.  Nearly destroyed when the twin towers fell, it was painstakingly revived with time and care.  Now known as the “Survivor Tree,” it stands today at the 9/11 Memorial as a powerful emblem of renewal and resilience.  Like its parent, our own tree has proven to be strong, enduring both the chill of a blizzard and the commotion of the courtyard’s renovation.  still  small today, it will grow and flourish in years to come – a living expression of our nation’s renewed hope and indomitable spirit – and this department’s commitment to those ideals.  Today, we complete the tree’s dedication by installing a commemorative plaque that explains its special significance.

Of course, the most fitting and enduring memorial that we can dedicate to the departed is not a marker or a monument, but rather a stronger and more perfect union – one where every person can live in safety and peace, regardless of race, religion, background and belief.  It is that ideal that defines our nation.  It was that ideal that prompted the forces of hatred and intolerance to unleash such great devastation on our land 15 years ago.  And it is that ideal that we must continue pursuing today – vigilant against those who still seek to do it harm and mindful of all who have died on its behalf.

So before we part, let us resolve to honor those we lost on 9/11 with our deeds as well as our words: not only with the hopeful symbol of this resilient tree, but also with the fruits of our work to make our nation strong; to keep our people safe; and to ensure that all Americans enjoy the rich and vibrant liberty, the fair and impartial justice and the real and lasting equality that is our birthright.

May God bless those whom we lost on September 11, 2001.  May He send His grace and peace to the loved ones left behind.  And may He continue to bless the United States of America.  Thank you.

Updated December 12, 2016