National Day of Service and Remembrance

September 11, 2009

Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, attended the Flight 93 National Memorial Service today, marking the eight-year remembrance of the tragic attacks of 9/11. Ridge serves as honorary co-chair of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, along with General Tommy Franks (Ret.).

Said Secretary Ridge of the eight-year anniversary, “On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, we honor the memories of cherished lives lost at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and the fields of Shanksville. Eight years on, may we also remember the unity that brought us together in the aftermath of that tragic loss and re-commit our collective efforts to protecting our liberty, our security and one another.”

Please visit the websites of the Flight 93 National Memorial and the World Trade Center Memorial to learn how you can help. Also, to learn more about the Pentagon Memorial, dedicated last year, please click here.

The following is an excerpt of “as prepared” remarks delivered by Secretary Tom Ridge at the Flight 93 National Memorial Service:

SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009

“Greater love has no country than the 40 heroes who laid down their life for their fellow citizens.

Long will we lean on those 40 American patriots for strength.

Long will we embrace the spirit of them for comfort.

And long will we wrestle with the loss of them in our reckoning of the why…the heart-wrenching why…the difficult why.

Eight years since the tragic moments of September 11, 2001 – we still ask why.  Because despite all we’ve learned since that day, the attacks upon our nation remain brutally senseless.

Still, we lean on that moment for strength; we embrace the memories of those we lost.

We reject the difficult why as a question too profound to understand. Instead we accept the tenets of remembrance, gratitude and enduring love.

Today, in this country and in others, people have gathered to commemorate the memory of nearly 3,000 loved ones lost from more than 80 nations around the world.

And so it is, that here we gather – to honor the day that lives were saved and heroes were made in the skies of Shanksville.

The sweeping and inspiring story of Flight 93, of bravery that had no bounds, reminds us now as it must every day…that greater love has no country than the 40 heroes who laid down their life for their fellow citizens.

And so we remain pledged and privileged to stand up for them, as they did for us. We continue to work to ensure that future generations will know their names, their actions…their last loving embrace to their nation.

To the families and friends of these heroes, you have our embrace. You have our compassion.

And you have our unyielding commitment to long honor those you loved – to continue to send the message that their courage mattered.  That their lives had meaning.  That they are deeply missed.

And that here a National Memorial will stand that will tell of extraordinary people who rose against evil…rallied in courage…and were quickly released into the outstretched arms of God.

Providence is now their peace. And pride in them is ours.

Greater love has no country than the 40 heroes who laid down their life for their fellow citizens.

May God continue to bless the people they so dearly loved – and the country they so selflessly protected – the freest, most treasured place to call home…the United States of America.”

Contact: Michele Nix +1-202-833-2008