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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rumsfeld Talks at Ceremony Honoring Those Killed in Pentagon Crash

Aired December 11, 2001 - 09:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We are taking you back to the Pentagon, where the memorial service is getting under way. It is being held at the reconstruction site at the Pentagon. Let's listen in on the national anthem being sung.

(SINGING, "STAR SPANGLED BANNER")

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. All of the distinguished guests and others who came to pause for a moment in remembrance of our fallen comrades and to offer our thoughts and prayers to their families and those still recovering from their injuries.

Those who lost their lives in this building and the innocent passenger and crew members on the aircraft were among the first to give their lives in this war on -- global war on terrorism, but certainly not the last.

Their deaths were a clarion call to our nation, a call to, once again, confront the enemies of freedom, a call to, once again, join with friends and allies to preserve our basic values and a call to stand united.

President Bush has asked us to be strong as we face this new enemy. No one has been stronger than our secretary of defense, Don Rumsfeld. His calm leadership, his clear focus on our goals and his patient pursuit of our enemies has been inspiring for all of us.

We who serve our country, both military and civilian, could not have asked for a better leader in this challenging times.

Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary Rumsfeld.

(APPLAUSE)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECY. OF DEFENSE: Thank you very much.

General Myers, Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for those words.

Service secretaries and members of the Joint Chiefs, friends and colleagues of those who were lost here on September 11, men and women of the Department of Defense and guests, thank you so much for being here today for our ceremony of remembrance. Three months ago today, at this hour, in this place, some 184 people died. They died because they were Americans, sons and daughters of the land of liberty. They died because they were here, in this place that symbolizes the power of freedom and the strength of American purpose and principle.

The terrorists who were responsible for their deaths prefer us to extinguish the memory of their lives, of their deaths and the meaning of their sacrifice.

We will not. We will remember their lives and the reason for their deaths until freedom triumphs over oppression, over fear and long beyond.

We will remember them and the other victims of that day -- their children, their families, their friends -- and the heroes, both living and dead, whose strength and courage prevented the loss of still more.

Not all that long ago, there were those who asked, "Where are our heroes?" They said there was no unifying spirit in America.

Today, all can see that the spirit of our nation is strong, and the heroes, we don't have to look far to find them.

On September 11, they were here and in New York, pulling friends and strangers out of the fire and out of the rubble.

In the skies over Pennsylvania, they showed those who believed Americans would not fight back that they were ready to roll.

And in Afghanistan today, our fighting forces are teaching the Al Qaeda terrorists a lesson, a lesson not taught in the camps that trained them to murder and to terrorize. They're teaching them and all enemies of freedom that, as President Ronald Reagan put it, "No weapon in any arsenal in the world is as formidable as the will and the moral courage of free men and free women."

Behind us today, the symbol of that will and courage is now being rebuilt, like our faith in freedom and our nation, stronger, surer and better than ever, a tribute to the heroes of today and all those heroes of yesterday who now sleep beneath the hills of Arlington Cemetery and, on whose shoulders, we are proud to stand.

After the attacks of September 11, letters and cards and posters from families and communities all across America came flooding into the Pentagon. You'll see them along the halls of the building, bearing messages of hope, of courage and of love.

One of them, from a mother who lost a child in another tragedy, explained that it is now up to us to ensure that those we love did not die in vain.

"You," she wrote, "are now a continuation of the lives of those you have lost; make them proud."

The men and women abroad Flight 93, who gave their lives in the skies over Pennsylvania so that so many others on the ground might live, the thousands lost in the Trade Center Towers, the policemen and firefighters who perished trying to save them, and all our brave military and civilian colleagues who, on that day, reported for duty here but did not return home, if they could see how our country is united to preserve freedom from terror, they'd be proud, proud of our unity, proud of our strength and proud of the determination to find, root out and deal with the evil of terrorism and those who seek to terrorize, and we will.

We will remember their lives, we will retell their stories again and again so that neither the nation nor the world ever forget.

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