Fifth Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Pentagon Mall, The Pentagon, Monday, September 11, 2006
Mr. Vice President and Lynne, thank you so much for being here on this important day.
Members of the Congress, Chairman Pace and Lynne, members of the Joint Chiefs and service secretaries and senior department officials.
Dick Myers, I see you here today. I remember working our way through that -- that long, tragic day.
Chaplains, thank you for your thoughts and remarks.
I believe all the families and friends have lapel patches, sort of in a double American flag, and we certainly welcome all of you and thank you for being here. And know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers.
Five years have passed since our country was drawn into a war not of our making. And we all remember where we were that day, what we were doing. And we, of course, recall our President, who stood in the rubble in lower Manhattan with a bullhorn, vowing justice.
And we recall members of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats and Independents -- joined together on the steps of the Capitol singing defiantly "God Bless America."
And we remember the grief that we all felt for our countrymen, grief that soon hardened into resolve.
Five years ago, while much of the nation and the world mourned, our enemies celebrated. They sought to change the way we live and to undermine the trust that we have in one another, which is really the essence of a free society.
On this fifth anniversary and on the anniversaries to come, we must ask ourselves -- are they succeeding?
Well, in many ways, the enemy's failing. Americans are not an intimidated people. Americans have not stopped flying on airplanes. We can see that this morning. And Americans have not stopped working in skyscrapers or here at the Pentagon.
Many of the terrorists who have not been killed or captured are on the run. They have lost their sanctuary in Afghanistan. They've lost a supporter in Iraq, that was paying the families of suicide bombers $25,000 each.
But they still try every day to convince us to doubt our prospects, to distrust one another and to believe that the battle against them cannot be won or is not worth the cost.
Americans have shown throughout our history that we can meet any challenge if we have the will to persevere, and if we understand with clarity exactly what would be at risk were we to fail.
Today we remember all of those who lost their lives, not only on September 11th, but in the struggle we have faced against extremists now for more than two decades: the 241 Marines killed in Beirut; the Sailors on the USS Cole; the airline passengers flying over Lockerbie, Scotland; subway riders in Madrid and London; and the children going to school in Beslan, Russia.
And we remember each of those who came to work here at the Pentagon on that bright September morning but did not come home. And we remember the men and women in uniform who have stepped forward to serve our country and have lost their lives in our defense in the five years since.
The highest tribute we can pay to them is to commit ourselves to doing everything possible to fight the extremists wherever they are; to making every effort to stay united as a country; and to give our truly outstanding men and women in uniform all that they need to succeed. And, I must add, to always give our troops the benefit of the doubt. They deserve it.
Today, let us pledge to do just that and let us be grateful to be led by a President who recognizes clearly the challenges before us, and a courageous Vice President, who has stood with him in this time of testing for our country.
I've known Vice President Cheney since so many years ago. I know how much he cares about the men and women in uniform, whom he led so ably as Secretary of Defense. And I know how deeply he felt the wound that was inflicted on our country five years ago today. And I value greatly his resolve and indeed his fierce determination to bring our enemies to justice and to keep the American people safe.
It's an honor to present the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney. (Applause.)