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9/11 Memorial Remarks

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington D.C., Friday, September 11, 2009

     Mr. President, Madam First Lady, distinguished visitors, and above all, family and friends – good morning and thank you for being here today.
     On September 11th, 2001, the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, absorbed the first foreign-based major attacks on the continental United States since the War of 1812.
     David Lloyd George, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, speaking during the opening months of World War I, said, “The stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the everlasting things that matter for a nation – the great peaks we had forgotten, of honor, duty, patriotism, and clad in glittering white, the towering pinnacle of Sacrifice pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven.”
     Today we honor the dead and to speak to the survivors and loved ones whose lives were irrevocably changed on that terrible day eight years ago. Words are inadequate to remove the pain of that loss. In the lives of these patriots we can find some solace. Because they lived, and because of the great “pinnacle of [their] sacrifice”, and because of the sacrifice of thousands more since that day, we remain a strong and free nation.
     Those who fell are commemorated here, and they are represented by the men and women you see around you acting as docents for this memorial. The docent program that begins today is being run by Lisa Dolan, who lost her husband, Navy Captain Robert Dolan, on 9/11. She and other 9/11 family members have added something poignant and profound to this program.
     We are grateful and honored on this day that the President – and the First Lady, who has made the welfare of military families her personal priority – are here to help us commemorate this anniversary. It is my great pleasure to introduce our commander-in-chief, the President of the United States.

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