Donald Rumsfeld At The Pentagon

The following is the speech Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave at the newly renovated Pentagon for the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

President and Mrs. Bush, Members of Congress, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Distinguished Foreign Guests, Family Members and Friends, General Dick Myers, Men and Women in Uniform, Pentagon Civilian Employees, Welcome.

We are here today to honor those who died in this place, and to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which they gave their lives — the cause of human liberty.

In a sense, we meet on a battlefield. If it does not appear so today, that is because of the singular devotion of the men and women, who worked day and night to fulfill a solemn vow: that not one stone of this building would be out of place on this anniversary.

We thank you for your dedication.

But one year ago, this was a battle zone — a scene of billowing smoke and towering flames, broken rock and twisted metal. It says much about our nation — and the fierceness and resilience of the American people — that were we not here, now, in solemn ceremony, a visitor passing would see no hint of the terrible events that took place here, but one year ago today.

But we must never forget what happened here. Dedicated men and women came here, on a clear September morning, to serve their country — and then, in an instant, were taken from us.

We gather today to remember them. But we are here for another purpose as well — to mark the first anniversary of a day that will be remembered by history, and commemorated by successive generations, so long as we remain a free people.

For a battle was joined on that day — a battle still unfolding — between a nation of free people, and forces that seek to plunge that nation, and indeed the free world, into the darkness of hatred, tyranny and terror.

We assemble today to ask: what has been accomplished in the name of those who died — and on behalf of those who live?

One month after the attacks, our Commander in Chief came here to the Pentagon, to speak to us, to console us, and to encourage us for the struggle ahead. Of the terrorists, Mr. President, you said: "they dwell in dark corners. And there we will find them…. With patience… the terrorists will be pursued. They will be isolated, surrounded, cornered, until there is no place to run, or hide, or rest."

Men and women of the Armed Forces: this you are doing. In Afghanistan, you have rescued a country, and liberated a people. You have rooted the terrorists out from the caves and shadows, and forced them into the light of day. You are performing heroically. Know that the American people value what you do for our country, and stand with you in the struggle ahead.

In the past year, some of your comrades have given their lives in the defense of freedom. We remember each of them today. And to their families, we offer our sympathy — and we thank you for the love of country you encouraged and instilled in each of those extraordinary human beings.

And we remember in our prayers each of the allied soldiers who have fallen on the field of battle.

From the first moments of this struggle, America knew she was not alone. Support came from every corner of the world.

Mr. President, the coalition you have assembled is truly remarkable. Some 90 nations — literally half the world — have joined in this effort, the greatest military coalition ever assembled in human history.

Many coalition partners are here today. To you we say: thank you for standing with us. Please extend our gratitude to your fellow citizens. Tell them how much we value their friendship and their steadfastness.

In the past year, we have been awakened to our vulnerabilities, made conscious of the dangers we face in this new century. That awakening came at a terrible price. On September 11th terrorists killed over 3,000 of our people. But they aspire to even greater destruction. Unless they are stopped, the light of history will fade from this day, turning its gaze instead to subsequent days when not thousands, but tens of thousands of lives could be lost.

The road ahead is long. But while we have not yet achieved victory, we know, in one important sense, that the terrorists who attacked us have already been defeated. They were defeated before a shot was fired in Afghanistan. They were defeated because they failed utterly to achieve their objectives.

The terrorists wanted September 11th to be a day when innocents died; instead it was a day when heroes were born.

The terrorists wanted September 11th to be a day when hatred reigned; instead, it was a day when we witnessed love beyond measure.

We saw it in the rescue workers who rushed into burning buildings to save lives, knowing they might never emerge.

We saw it in the passengers on Flight 93, who learned what was happening, and decided it was better to fight and die in a grassy Pennsylvania field, than allow the terrorists to reach our nation’s capital.

And we have seen it every day since — in the service of coalition forces, who have risked their lives, and given their lives, to stop the terrorists.

The terrorists wanted September 11th to be a day when free people learned fear and self-doubt; instead, it was a day when a sleeping patriotism was awakened in this great country.

Even as they wiped away their tears, Americans unfurled their flags. They flew from seemingly every home and car. In schools, parks and playing fields, and in town squares across this nation citizens gathered to light candles and to pray.

The fruits of September 11th were not hatred, fear or self-doubt, as the terrorists intended. They were faith, hope and love — charity and courage — patience and perseverance.

We have cause for hope, because we have seen evil reveal itself in our midst — and then watched it humbled by the power of simple goodness.

From the construction workers who rebuilt this wounded building stone by stone; to those wounded here, who have inspired our nation with their courageous struggle to recover; to the thousands of schoolchildren who sent pictures to comfort us and lift our spirits — and they did lift our spirits — the American people responded in ways that stir the soul.

Many Americans ask: what can we do to help? The answer is: You have helped. You have prayed, you have volunteered, and you have given your sons and daughters to defend our freedom. Your spirit is defeating the terrorists.

We will win this war on terror. We will win no matter how long, or hard, or difficult or costly it is. We will win because our liberty and our way of life depend on it.

One day, this war will end. And our grandchildren will look back on this time, and ask — how was the war on terror won? And we will tell them about the heroes — the brave men and women who gave their lives, so that we could live in freedom.

We remember those heroes today. And to the families, many of whom are here — know that we have not forgotten.

But let us do more than remember. The greatest honor we can bestow on them, the best memorial we can fashion for them, is to protect our liberty, and secure it for the generations to come.

That is our charge.

May God bless our nation in the struggle ahead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.