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Secretary Cohen's Remarks at the Memorial to Nairobi Embassy Bombing Victims, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
August 13, 1998

Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Albright, Members of Congress, General Shelton and members of the Joint Chiefs, Janet, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and especially families and friends of those we honor today. This is a moment of profound sadness and grief -- for the families whose loved ones have been torn from their embrace, for their many friends and colleagues whose lives they have enriched and for our nation whose cause they so courageously served.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once spoke words that give us strength today, "Alas," he said, "We cannot live our dreams. We are lucky enough if we can give a sample of our best. And if in our hearts we can feel it has been nobly done."

We borrow this moment to express our sorrow and gratitude both to the families who are gathered here and to these fallen heroes who lived their dreams, giving more than a sample of their best, both as soldiers and diplomats. They endured hardship, and yet they served quietly and proudly. They knew the dangers of their profession, yet risked life and limb for us all. They lived with action and passion. They were the best that America has to offer. They were the "better angels of our nature."

I consider our men and women in uniform to be ambassadors of goodwill as well as warriors, carrying our values and virtues wherever they are deployed. But today is a stark reminder that America's ambassadors, diplomats and their staffs are granted no exemption from danger while serving on the front lines of democracy. On behalf of America's Armed Forces, I want to recognize all who serve in our embassies, consulates and compounds abroad. The freedoms that we cherish are stronger, our nation is more secure, because of who you are and what you do.

The twelve Americans and 245 Kenyans and Tanzanians were taken from us in a violent moment by those who traffic in terror and rejoice in the agony of their victims. We pledge here today that neither time nor distance can bend or break our resolve to bring to justice those who have committed these unspeakable acts of cowardice and horror. We will not rest and we will never retreat from this mission.

This tragedy has cost us precious lives, and there is no expression of grief and no vow for justice that can lift the pain of this day. But we can never allow terrorists to diminish our determination to press on with the inspiring work of those who have been taken from us. Their sudden loss must only strengthen our sense of purpose. They did not serve, they did not sacrifice, they did not give their lives so that we could walk away from this new world they were helping to build for others. We must ensure that the torch of freedom always burns brighter than the fires of hate and that we continue to be an America worthy of the ultimate price that they have paid.

These sons and daughters of America were of a manner pure with lofty purpose. Six days ago they left us, lifted beyond this mortal veil, having given more than a sample of their best. Along with their families we now bid them farewell with reverence and respect, knowing in our hearts that their work was nobly done. May God continue to embrace our nation and may He open up his arms to these heroes -- there, on high, where they shall dwell forever.