Rumsfeld, Myers Remember the Slain, Gird for Future
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 11, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoed Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address when he told those attending the Pentagon observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack "that we meet on a battlefield" of the war on terrorism.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld speaks at the Pentagon observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, telling the more than 10,000 people gathered, "we must not 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." DoD photo by Master Sgt. Mark A. Suban, USAF.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"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 tyranny and terror," Rumsfeld told the more than 10,000 people gathered by the west wall of the Pentagon.
President Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and Rumsfeld spoke during the observance, entitled "United in Freedom." The stage was built next to the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building at 9:37 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001.
Rumsfeld said the nation must not forget the sacrifices made that day. "Dedicated men and women came here on a clear September morning to serve their country, and then, in an instant were taken from us," he said.
Rumsfeld said Americans "assemble today to ask what has been accomplished in the name of those who died and on behalf of those who lived."
He said the attacks in New York and the Pentagon pointed out America's vulnerabilities, and made Americans conscious of the dangers of the 21st century. "That awakening came at a terrible price," he said. "But the terrorists 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."
Both Rumsfeld and Myers focused on what the terrorists failed to do in their attacks on America. "The terrorists sought to instill fear," Myers said. "Instead, our nation responded with resolve.
"Singular acts of courage were repeated a thousand times. Police, firefighters, medical personnel and passing citizens rushed to this building, just as they did to the World Trade Center and to that pasture in western Pennsylvania. No matter who they were, all shared a common purpose: 'How can I help?'"
Rumsfeld said that while the war on terror will be a long one, in one sense the terrorists have already been defeated.
"They were defeated before the first shot was fired in Afghanistan," he said. "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."
The secretary said the terrorists' goal was to instill hate, fear and self-doubt in America. Instead, the fruits of September 11th were charity and courage, patience and perseverance.
Myers thanked the "hard-hat patriots" of the Pentagon's Project Phoenix work force. "You've restored this great building ahead of schedule, with muscle, determination, marble, cement and Indiana limestone," he said. "You did more than repair our windows and walls; you repaired our souls. In the process, you turned this building into another symbol, one of American resilience."
Myers said the road ahead would be hard, but that the price is worth it. "Today you and I enjoy our beloved freedoms because of the sacrifices made by many before us from our nation, from our friends and allies around the world," he said. "Now, it's our turn to bear the burden: for our children, for our grandchildren, for our fallen comrades, for America, for the world."