September 11th Commemoration at HUD

Remarks as prepared for delivery by
Secretary Mel Martinez

Washington, DC
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us on this first observance of the day President Bush has proclaimed "Patriot Day."

One year ago, our nation was attacked by those who seek to end our way of life, our freedom. The men and women who earned the title of "hero" that day in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania have a special place in our hearts. We will never forget their courage and selflessness.

Many were touched by the loss of family and friends that day. We continue to hold all the victims and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers, just as we pursue our obligation to see that justice is done and freedom prevails.

I ask you to join me in observing a moment of silence as we remember and honor the victims of September the 11th: the civilians killed in the attacks; the firefighters, rescue personnel, and law enforcement officers who gave their lives saving the lives of others; and the members of the Armed Forces who have died in the war against terrorism.


Today is reminiscent of a day 60 years ago, when President Franklin Roosevelt marked the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He said, "...I am proud to say to you that the spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today."

It is equally true in 2002. The difficult days of one year ago have transformed this nation and her people in remarkable ways.

When the terrorists struck, Americans recognized the act for what it was - an attack on our way of life, and on the freedom and democracy we cherish. And America responded. Through military action, and just as importantly, by individuals reaching out to their families, families reaching out to their communities, and communities coming together as a nation united.

President Bush has challenged each of us to be stronger, more compassionate and generous, and better attuned to the needs of both neighbors and strangers. He told us the best way to respond to acts of evil was through acts of kindness.

Americans have answered the challenge. A year after the terrorist attacks, an event that could have cloaked this nation in fear and disillusionment has instead brought out the best in our people.

Immediately following the attacks, the President promised that the critically important work of this government - the work each of you undertake every day - would continue uninterrupted. And even though you found it difficult at times, you have done that, and the nation and the President thank you.

In New York City, our employees showed tremendous courage, especially those in the Office of the Inspector General. Their lives were severely disrupted, many suffered personal losses, and I know there was fear and anxiety. But you responded, and I am grateful and proud of you.

In Washington, the determination of this city to move forward and get back to work is reflected in the west wall of the Pentagon itself. The area damaged in the attacks has been fully restored, and the work of defending our nation is taking place there once again.

In Oklahoma City, the attacks of September 2001 brought back painful memories of April 1995 and all that you lost on that day. We know you are hurting even now, and we are with you.

On this first Patriot Day, the President has asked us to remember the sacrifices of those we lost last September 11 by committing ourselves to the pursuit of peace in the world and security at home. We do this through our work at HUD. We do this through our commitment to our families and to our communities. And we do this in the hope that our vigilance today will spare future generations from the challenges we overcame during this past year.

Thank you, and may God bless America.


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