Sep 13, 2021
Congressional Leaders 9/11 Ceremony Speech Transcript
Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell held a September 11th remembrance ceremony on September 13, 2021. Read the transcript of their speeches here.
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Speaker 1: (01:01)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:09)
It is my sad and great honor to welcome members of Congress and the congressional community to the remembrance observing 20 years, since the terror attack of September 11th. That day we suffered loss. We could not fathom and witnessed heroism We will never forget. Today and always, Americans are united in grief for those who lost their lives and for their families and gratitude for the heroes of the day. May their memories always be a blessing.
Speaker 1: (01:49)
Ladies and gentlemen to sing the National Anthem, the United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own.
United States Army Band: (01:55)
Speaker 1: (03:12)
Ladies and gentlemen. House Chaplain, Margaret Grun Kibben.
Margaret Grun Kibben: (03:22)
Would you pray with me? Holy and eternal God, we approach you today remembering a clear blue sky and a nation at peace. We ask your presence among us as that memory is shattered by the tragedy that followed, when in an instant, our country was robbed of its security and bereft of thousands of its citizens. We pray your peace over us, as we wrestle with the aftermath of that defining day in our nation’s history. The sacrifice of too many of our sons and daughters who gave their lives to defend the freedom assaulted on that serene September day. The grief of countless families and the violence and upheaval, which then ensued across the globe. As we gathered today, remind us that while preserving freedom has clearly not been free, you have consecrated the sacrifice of the noble men and women who have given of their lives to defend our liberties. Neither their deaths, the ongoing suffering of those who have survived, nor the depth of our grief will ever be in vain. These sacrifices are a monument to the virtue that liberty, the peace and justice on which our nation was founded, and to which you have called each of us to uphold. Holy God, may we be worthy of their legacy, and ennobled by the depth of your compassion and the hope of your salvation. God bless America, and receive our prayers as we offer them in the strength of your name. Amen.
Speaker 5: (05:08)
Speaker 1: (05:13)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader of the United States House of Representatives.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:22)
Winston Churchill once said that courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it’s the quality which guarantees all others. Churchill knew that without courage, nothing else is possible. And there is no better example, none, than how Americans responded on September 11th, 2001. Many gave their lives for strangers, inspired by a sense of duty and of love for others. It is impossible not to admire them. Their courage in the most difficult circumstances is an inspiration to us all. And we will never forget. Todd Beamer and the heroes on flight 93, who as the attacks unfolded, took a vote, sad a prayer and took matters into their own hands. Why? Because that is what Americans do. The firefighters who cleared the rubble from ground zero in search of survivors, determined to leave nobody behind. Why? Because that’s what Americans do. The warriors who took the fight to the enemy and kept us safe from another 9/11 for more than 20 years. Why? Because that’s what Americans do.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:47)
20 years ago, we saw true evil, an evil that tried to destroy us, but good people become heroes in hard times, and that’s how the American people responded; heroically. We rallied around the principles of freedom that came under attack. We comforted families, friends, and neighbors, churches flung open their doors, and we flocked in calling out to God for help and hope. We had the sense to know there was something more important than politics. We stood together, united, proud to be Americans. We flew the American flag in homes across the country to honor the first responders who lost their lives, and to celebrate the undying American values that a cowardly act of terrorism could not extinguish. That is a record of how a dark hour of American history became one of our finest hours. The cowards who wanted to destroy our way of life, tried to break our spirit. Instead, they revealed that those who live in freedom have a rare reservoir of strength that nobody else has. Two decades later, we continue to mourn the victims and honor our heroes. We cannot mourn without honoring, and we cannot honor without resolving to do everything we can to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil. Together, we can continue to honor the memories of the fallen by making, “Never forget” a 365 day commitment. It is up to us, everyone to make this pledge meaningful. Thank you, and may God bless America.
Speaker 1: (08:37)
Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Mitch McConnell Republican leader of the United States Senate.
Mitch McConnell: (08:54)
20 years ago, the United States of America was reeling. Our initial shock was settling into deeper pain. Early confusion was becoming lasting anger. But as the stories of September 11th began to be told and heard, one thing became clear; in the long run, that evil day would not only be remembered as a time when America was briefly laid low. No, that day and the days that followed, we also showed the world out of the greatest country in the world sticks together, stays strong and stands back up. When routine flights became deadly weapons, ordinary passengers used their final moments to save more innocent lives, and quite likely, this Capitol. When clear blue skies clouded with smoke, first responders rushed fearlessly toward the biggest calls of their careers, and for too many, their last. As families grieved and cities mourned, citizens, volunteers piled up prayers, donations and patriotism into mountains of good will, even higher than the piles of rubble. And for 20 years, thousands of our bravest deployed to lands from which this evil was launched to make our refrain, “Never again,” into reality.
Mitch McConnell: (10:33)
The attacks of September the 11th have stolen the lives of about 3000 of our people, but thousands of families and friends, this anniversary will forever be deeply, terribly personal. And over two decades of fighting back against terrorists killers, thousands more newly minted gold star families have been dealt their own life changing sorrows because of this day. Know that you’re a country still stands with you. Your fellow citizens will share your grief. Not one American sacrifice has been in vain. We renewed our commitment that we will never be broken, we ensured our unity and resolve runs even deeper than our sadness. Our job is to keep that resolved, preserve our vigilance and never surrender to the tempting, but mistaken myth that evil alone by America will leave America alone in return. Today, we solemnly remember the day we said, “Never again.” Let us also remember what it takes to keep that promise.
Speaker 1: (11:54)
Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Charles E. Schumer Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
Chuck Schumer: (12:06)
Madam Speaker, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, my colleagues and friends 20 years ago on a beautiful day, much like this one, our country, our people changed forever. In just over an hour, two planes collided into the towers of the World Trade Center, a third struck the west side of the Pentagon and a fourth crashed down in a field in Pennsylvania, the worst act of terrorism in our nation’s history. I remember clearly what it was like; President Bush sent then Senator Clinton and I in a plane to go back to New York the day after. The smell of death hung in the air and a scene, I’ll never forget, and think of all the time, hundreds, hundreds of frightened, scared, worried people were holding up makeshift little posters and signs with pictures, “Have you seen my brother, Bill?” “Have you seen my daughter, Joan?”
Chuck Schumer: (13:11)
I still remember the people I knew who perished. Guy I played basketball with in Brooklyn, who was on flight 93, a businessman who helped me on the way up, a firefighter I did blood drives with. And so many just average folks, good Americans, good New Yorkers in that tower. Cooks and waiters, clerks, healthcare workers, government workers, financial executives, this most vicious act, the one of the most vicious acts ever in humankind, spared nobody. Spared nobody. I called on Americans to wear the flag the day after, I still wear this flag every day in remembrance of those who were lost.
Chuck Schumer: (14:00)
Now, it’s been a long road since 9/11. Our country has changed in ways we could have scarcely imagined back then. But one thing does not change; our obligation to remember and honor every single American we lost that day. We honor the memory of the parents who never came home, the friends never seen, and the country men and women taken too soon from our midst. We mourn also for those lost in the aftermath of the attack, the first responders who, like our armed forces, thought not of themselves, but of their fellow citizens as they rushed to danger and went to work at Ground Zero in the pile, they represented the best, the very best of what it means to be an American. We remember the legions of firefighters, and cops, and union workers from the building trades, and rescue workers who worked the pile, only to become sick years later. Far too many of them ultimately passing from their illnesses. More have died of those illnesses, unfortunately, than those who died at the towers. To the first responders who survived, we hold a special obligation to care for their health and the health of their loved ones.
Chuck Schumer: (15:20)
And finally, we remember and honor all of our military members injured and killed in the service of their country. As our troops make their return home from abroad, let us commit to always care for them too, to care for their families, to never, ever lose sight of the sacrifice they made.
Chuck Schumer: (15:41)
My friends, the world is not been the same since the attacks of September 11th. The loss of that day can never, never be fully recovered, but 20 years later, let us not forget that for all its horror, September 11th also revealed something fundamental and powerful about the American spirit. It was something revealed by the bravery of the first responders who worked at Ground Zero, by the scores of people who lined up in blood drives and gathered in prayer vigils by a man, as I remember whose shoe store two blocks north of the towers, and after the attack just gave shoes out freely to all those who had walked by, who had escaped from the rubble, because they didn’t have shoes as they tried to rush down the stairs.
Chuck Schumer: (16:27)
In short, September 11th revealed the fundamental goodness, courage and resiliency of the American people. It’s a resiliency that brought my city back after so many counted her out. A few months after 9/11, people said, “New York will never come back,” but just a few years after 9/11, you could walk through lower Manhattan and marvel at how she was driving more prosperously than. Ever 20 years later, 20 years later, let us work together to keep tapping into that unique American sense of resiliency. There’s no better way to honor those we lost that day, there’s no better way to fulfill our promise, now, more important than ever to never forget. God bless all of you. God bless America.
Speaker 1: (17:20)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:29)
Thank all of you for being here this morning. I want to especially thank Brian Lazano and the US Army Band, Pershing’s Own quartet, for leading us with our National Anthem this morning. I want to thank the members of the leadership, Mr. Schumer, Mr. McConnell, Mr. McCarthy for their beautiful remarks, and thanks to [inaudible 00:17:52], member of the leadership for being with us as other members of Congress from all over the country. I wanted to share some thoughts with you about this weekend. Over the weekend, we’ve had some sad observances of what happened that day. On Friday, we began here with flight 93, with flight attendants and pilots talking about their friends who were on that flight that was supposedly destined for the Capitol. Flight 93, as I think about everything we heard then, and in New York at Ground Zero at the ceremony on Saturday three is a number that night I want also to remember, so that we never forget. Flight 93, headed for the Capitol, bravery, courage on that flight spared us that tragedy.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:57)
In New York, 343 firefighters lost their lives. I’m not talking about other consequences following, I’m talking about 343 firefighters lost their lives that day. 31 members of the New York Police Department: 93, 343 31. 13 of our young people in the last days of Afghanistan. So let the number three be a way for you to remember, and never forget what happened. On Saturday, we heard speeches, presentations were only made by family members, which was beautiful and appropriate. We heard little grandchildren say, “I never met you grandpa, but I know you’re a guardian angel of me heaven.” People chilled with faith. Moms talking about their children, looking like their dads, or acting like their dads. The connection, the connection, so beautiful, but faith filled, because praying to them as they remembered them. Just comrades in the battle there talking about their friends that they lost, demonstrated faith in God, faith in each other, faith in America, it has been a very unifying time, as it was right from the start with President Bush’s beautiful remarks that day, and this weekend, as well as President Obama.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:46)
President cautioned against the silent artillery of time. This silent artillery of time eroding our memory. Today and always, we renew our vow. Time shall not dim the memory of our fallen heroes. We pray that the years might ease the pain of the bereaved, but never the luster of the deeds of the fallen. When we visit the memories of September 11th, we tread on sacred ground. As we all know, 20 years ago on that clear Tuesday morning, America was forever changed by an act of terrorism. In a moment, nearly 3000 lives were taken, and the innocence of a generation was lost. Yet, at our darkest moment, America showed the world our greatness. In the heroism of the first responders who rushed into danger, in the strength of strangers bonded by the loss, and the courage of a nation that found unity in our agony. As Americans across the country mark this solemn day, over the weekend, we recommit to our sacred promise to never forget, both what we lost, and the unity and strength that we found
Nancy Pelosi: (22:16)
May God bless the families of those who lost their loved ones. Those who helped those families and may God bless America. Now I invite all of you to join us in a moment of silence. (silence)
Speaker 1: (23:28)
Ladies and gentlemen, Senate chaplain, Dr. Barry Black.
Dr. Barry Black: (23:40)
Let us pray. Eternal God, our shelter and shield, today we again remember 9/11. As we recall the tragedy, infamy and heroism of that day, we better understand that freedom isn’t free. We remember how the pain united us, so that we knew that we were not hyphenated Americans, but one people. Lord infuse us in these contentious times with a similar spirit of oneness, inspiring us to work for the wellbeing of all people. We are grateful for the protection you have provided us for the 20 years since that calamitous day. As we embrace the promise never to forget, help us to never forget that you continue to be our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble, so that we have no need to fear, though the earth be removed and all the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. We pray in your sovereign name. Amen.
Speaker 1: (25:33)
Ladies and gentlemen singing, God Bless America. The United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own.