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Remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Pentagon Memorial for Victims in the Sept. 11 Terror Attack

Press Release - Friday, June 16, 2006

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)


"Thank you very much, Jim.  Rosemary, thank you for being here.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Pete Pace, thank you for all you do.  Chaplain Black.

"I should just let people know that the friends and family members of those that died here are in these two sections.  In that section, I can see at least a number of the members of the United States Congress, they’re in a very busy part of their session, and we very much appreciate your being here.
 
"I see the president pro tempore of the Senate, Ted Stevens. Thank you, sir.  And Dan Inouye next to him, Senator Inouye of Hawaii. Chairman John Warner and his close associate, Carl Levin, senator from Michigan.  Senator George Allen.  Thank you for being here.
 
"I see the mayor.  I see behind you Congressmen Davis and Moran and Eleanor Norton Holmes (sic/Holmes Norton) and Congressman Young, Chairman Young, Kay Granger.  And sitting behind them, the service secretaries, Mike Wynne and Fran Harvey.  Former secretary Frank Carlucci and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
 
"We appreciate all of your being here.  Thank you so much.
 
"And over here I see the members of the Cabinet, Secretary Rice, and I don't know there must be half -- two-thirds of the Cabinet here. Thank you all for being here.  We appreciate it a great deal.
 
"In the Senate section with the family, we also see Mary Jo Myers.  Dick Myers was Pete Pace's predecessor, of course, and is retired. Thank you for being here.  And Paul Wolfowitz, the -- I forget what it is -- president of the World Bank or director of the World Bank or -- in any event, he is former deputy, was here during that period.  Thank you for being here, Paul.
 
"It means a great deal to us that all of you are here, and thank you so very much.
 
"And a special welcome to the families of those who were killed here on September 11th and to the survivors of September 11th.  And there are a great many here.
 
"And I would include the press because the press was in the building at the time the plane hit as well.  And to those of you who are first responders, the firemen and ambulance people who came and provided aid, immediate aid to our colleagues.  You honor us with your presence.
 
"Our nation's capital city is rich with monuments to the men and women of our heritage.  Among the most famous, of course, across the Potomac, are the monuments to Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln, men who valued freedom, who helped to define it, to defend it and to give it new birth.  It will not be long before a new monument stands on this side of the Potomac, the monument to the 184 who died so close to this spot.  They had different lives and different dreams, and they shared a tragic destiny.
 
"Many of you here have been instrumental in helping to make this memorial possible, partners in the memorial fund that Jim and Rosemary head up, members of Congress, citizens, donors.  And we thank you for your dedication and your generosity.  And thanks to Julie Beckman and Keith Kasemen.  Are they here?  Where are they?  I haven't seen them yet.  There you are.  Stand up.  These are the designers of this memorial.  Let's -- nice to see you both.  Thank you for being here.
 
"When completed, this memorial's individual benches will remind visitors that every one of these lives was special, with hopes cut short and with loved ones left behind.  Among them was a girl named Zoe Falkenberg.  She was traveling on the flight with her parents and her three-year-old sister.  She had been a soccer player, on the swim team, and took part in her grade-school production of "The King and I."  She was eight.
 
"We remember her, of course, and we remember all who hallowed this ground -- the passengers of American Airlines Flight 77, and the men and women, military and civilian, who worked here and quietly and capably served our country.  Today we claim this ground for them, for their families and for the brave servicemen and women who have volunteered to go out to meet our nation's enemies and to keep our country safe.
 
"If I may, I want to say a word to the family members here who lost loved ones on September 11th.  At some point in the future, most of you will return to this sacred ground. You might walk between what will be newly planted trees out behind me, pass by the benches, each with a name etched in the granite.  No doubt, you'll search for the name of the person who once helped give your life meaning and who perhaps always will.  And as you reflect, you'll be flooded with memories -- of your loss, to be sure, but also split-second images of love, of laughter and of joyous times.
 
"This memorial was meant for you, to offer some comfort.  We have talked over the years, and now you can know that we will never forget. So I thank you for coming, and may God be with you and with your families.
 
"And to other Americans who might one day come to this memorial many years from now, I want to say this.  Some day there may come a time when you might encounter a stranger here, maybe a child born after September 11th, looking around, wondering what this memorial is all about.  Well, tell them that this is where men and women became targets and were killed because they were free Americans.  Tell them that there have always been those who fear and oppose our country's values, our cause.  And tell them that history is the epic story of those enemies defeated and freedom's triumph.  Then, as those young visitors grow older, they'll understand that those we honor here did not die in vain, that their countrymen's grief was turned towards the cause of our nation's defense, and that our enemies were no match for the brave Americans who are uncompromising in their mission, unapologetic for their purpose, and unyielding in their quest for freedom and for peace.
"May God bless you, and may God continue to bless our wonderful country."

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