9/11 messages of remembrance

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Words matter. Those of ordinary Americans have filled Metro’s pages as
we mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but at times of
national crisis, it is often the words of our leaders that matter most. 
Here, they reflect on a decade that changed America.

From political leaders

Rudolph Giuliani, former New York City Mayor

“[Sept. 11] is very complicated because it was the worst day in my life, worst day in the life of my city — to some extent, I imagine, the country or pretty close to the worst day for the country. And in some ways it was the greatest day, the most glorious day because of the display of bravery and fortitude and strength that people showed. … Everyone remembers where they were when the attack on the twin towers and on Washington and over the skies of Pa. happened. … It is a defining event for us; and right now, as we enter into the second decade of the 21st century, it’s the most defining event — and it’s had tremendous implications for us, and it’s having implications for us that we still don’t quite understand.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“This Sunday, as we reflect back on the past, let us remember not only the agony and anguish of the attacks but how we channeled our pain into something positive and powerful. Let us remember not only the day that time stood still — but the decade we have spent recovering, rebuilding and renewing. Let us remember not only how the towers fell, but how we rose up – determined to defend our freedoms. And let us remember that when we unite as Americans, and when we put patriotism ahead of partisanship, there is no challenge that this country can’t meet. That – that is the ultimate lesson of our past decade. And I believe the ultimate way we can honor those we lost is to apply that lesson to all the challenges our nation faces. So that the legacy of 9/11 will be felt not just here in Lower Manhattan but across each and every one of our 50 states for decades and centuries to come.”

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the safety and security of the American public remains our highest priority. While threats remain, our nation is stronger than it was on 9/11, more prepared to confront evolving threats and more resilient than ever before. … Homeland security is a shared responsibility, and everyone plays an important role in helping to keep our communities safe and secure. We remind our federal, state [and] local partners, and the public, to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement authorities.”

President Barack Obama

“This Sept. 11, Michelle and I will join the commemorations at Ground Zero, in Shanksville and at the Pentagon. But even if you can’t be in New York, Pennsylvania or Virginia, every American can be part of this anniversary. Once again, 9/11 will be a National Day of Service and Remembrance. And in the days and weeks ahead, folks across the country – in all 50 states – will come together, in their communities and neighborhoods, to honor the victims of 9/11 and to reaffirm the strength of our nation with acts of service and charity. … Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost; a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11. On this 10th anniversary, we still face great challenges as a nation. We’re emerging from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. We’re taking the fight to al-Qaeda, ending the war in Iraq and starting to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. And we’re working to rebuild the foundation of our national strength here at home. None of this will be easy. And it can’t be the work of government alone. As we saw after 9/11, the strength of America has always been the character and compassion of our people. So as we mark this solemn anniversary, let’s summon that spirit once more. And let’s show that the sense of common purpose that we need in America doesn’t have to be a fleeting moment. It can be a lasting virtue — not just on one day, but every day.”

Former U.S. President George Bush, as told to National Geographic

“Sept. the 11 was a monumental day in our nation’s history. It was a significant day and it obviously changed my presidency. I went from being a president that was primarily focused on domestic issues to a wartime president, something I never anticipated nor something I ever wanted to be. I had been notified that a plane hit the World Trade Center. At first I thought it was a light aircraft and my reaction was, man, either the weather was bad or something extraordinary happened to the pilot. I then informed some of my staff members to provide help to New York City, whatever help they needed to take care of this incident and then walked into the classroom. The classroom was full of kids who were reading. And in the back of the classroom was a full press corps and staffers and some adults and I’m intently listening to the lesson. And I felt a presence behind me. And Andy Cards’s Massachusetts accent was whispering in my ear, ‘A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack.’”

From religious leaders

Pax Christi USA

“This anniversary offers us an opportunity to reflect the values of the God to whom we have given our allegiance. Let us remember those who were lost and memorialize this day by committing our lives to ‘the things that make for peace’ — drawing closer to those who suffer, cultivating understanding in the midst of suspicion, finding truth in the arguments of those with whom we disagree, embracing some measure of personal sacrifice today to make a better world for our children and grandchildren tomorrow. Let us gather one decade from now — not amidst the ruins of all that has been torn down — but in the midst of that new world of peace and security for all, which we have built up together.”

Rugiatu Conteh, Outreach and Communications Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Philadelphia Chapter

“9/11 impacted the American Muslim community in two ways. The attacks were on our country and faith. As we grieved for the lives of the innocent, we had to deal with our faith being tarnished. It has been a challenge for many Muslims; however, 9/11 did start a national conversation about Islam’s place in America. After 10 years, I am confident that the conversation has reinforced our nation’s pluralism.”

Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW,  Rabbinic Director, Jewish
Board of Family and Children’s Services at the New York Jewish Healing
Center, On Approaching the 10th Yarhzeit of 9/11 as Jewish Families

“As the Tenth Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, Jewish individuals and families will join others in various communal observances and memorials. The death and  devastation of Sept. 11 impacted people of virtually every religious and ethnic background, and so it is certainly fitting that we come together across social divisions and join one another in remembering and affirming our kinship. … On 9/11, the horrible attacks not only took thousands of innocent lives but impacted millions of people.  One cannot, in fact, begin to adequately quantify the fallout after the evil of that day — psychologically, spiritually, socially, economically, politically, etc. Life has continued  — there have been joyous moments, creative achievements, scientific advances and so much more over this decade— but it is not wrong to reflect on the attacks on 9/11 as a hurban — a devastation — and to reach into our past for tools to approach the present.”

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), New York Yearly Meeting

“Ten years ago, members of al-Qaeda used four passenger aircraft as weapons to kill nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001. The United States  government’s response was to answer violence with violence. In the ensuing wars, hundreds of thousands more people have been killed. New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) urges everyone to recognize this anniversary as an occasion to remember that there are always alternatives to violence and that there is a Spirit in every human being, which responds with gratitude to these alternatives. … We testify to the world that we disown all wars and fighting with outward weapons for any cause whatsoever. These are never necessary. There are no “just wars.” Among the weapons we renounce are the tongue and the pen, when these are used to provoke prejudice and hatred. Neither will we be silenced by fear when we are called to witness against evil masquerading as good. We seek to build a world in which a just peace is possible.”


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