9-11 Commemorative Ceremony, Stone Mountain, Ga., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011
Good morning – it’s good to be with all of you here in Stone Mountain for such an important commemoration. Thank you to Mayor Wheeler, members of the city council, elected officials and the organizers Jack Sartain, Dr. George Coletti and Bugles Across America.
And thank you to all the citizens who took time to come out this morning, and to all of our officers and first responders who are here as well, thank you for all that you do.
Today, we honor the lives we lost 10 years ago. On a bright September day, innocent men, women, and children boarded planes and set off for work as they had so many times before. Unthinkable acts of terrorism brought tragedy, destruction, pain, and loss for people across our nation and the world.
As we pay tribute to loved ones, friends, fellow citizens, firefighters, first responders and all who died, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideas and ideals that united Americans in the aftermath of the attacks.
Like all of you, I remember exactly where I was that fateful day 10 years ago today. I recall it being a dreary day here in Georgia, and I was at a DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting. When I first heard the news, it took me some time to come to grips with what happened – the unthinkable had occurred and changed America forever.
While we have killed public enemy No. 1 – Osama bin Laden – we understand our battle with terrorists is not simply won by military might alone. A strong military is important, but we must also win the hearts and minds of our enemies.
We must accept and nurture the higher nature of all human beings, and through dialogue, diplomacy and assistance we must help oppressed people be free.
Rather than a time of sadness, this should be a day of challenge to us all – a challenge to treat one another as we wish to be treated and a calling to the higher aspirations for all men and women without regard to their race, creed, or religion.
As President Obama said: September 11 reminds us that our fate as individuals is tied to that of our nation. Our democracy is strengthened when we uphold the freedoms upon which America was built: equality, justice, liberty, and democracy. These values exemplify the patriotism and sacrifice we commemorate today.
In that same spirit of patriotism, I call upon all of us to join in service and honor the lives we lost, the heroes who responded in our hour of need, and the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our country at home and abroad today.
Thank you and God Bless the United States of America.