Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: Statement on the First Anniversary of the September 11 Attacks

September 11, 2002 

House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the following statement on the House floor this evening, on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Mr. Speaker, this has been quite a day for our country, all over America, and in my district in San Francisco, all day. We started at 5 o'clock this morning, because it is three hours earlier, to be ready to commemorate at the exact moment the sad tragedy that our country experienced last year. But for some of us, we were in the National Cathedral at that precise time when the great bell of the cathedral rang to observe again that sad time and for all of us to join in mourning.

It is a day of mourning and memories, and it is a day to pay tribute and give thanks certainly to the New York delegation for the wonderful venue they provided for us last week to mourn and commiserate. They provided us a great memory for which we are all grateful.

With the resolution that we approved today in the Congress, we expressed our utmost appreciation to those brave and courageous young men and women in uniform who are fighting the battle to root out terrorism wherever it exists.

Today we remember the victims of September 11. We also remember and pay tribute to Johnny Micheal Spann, the CIA officer who in November became the first American killed in combat. We honored him earlier in this Congress with his family in the gallery. His name and the names of thousands of other Americans, too many Americans, are now etched as permanently in our history as they are in the minds of their families. As the poet laureate of the United States said in New York, too many names for even the walls of our hearts to contain.

For some of the families of the victims, the sound of a plane flying overhead fills them with fear. Indeed, the warning of any possible terrorist act intensifies their grief, and for them and for all Americans we must do everything in our power to reduce risk to the American people. Yet as we continue to grieve, we take pride in knowing that the unspeakable events of September 11 have brought Americans closer together than ever. We have joined together as a community. We rushed to give blood, money, and to volunteer time to become more patriotic, to appreciate our freedom.

Today's resolution honored all of those affected by September 11, from whom we have learned what it means to be a member of the American family.

From our first responders, our firefighters, and police officers, we have learned to be an American is to be selfless, to put honor above personal safety and the lives of strangers above your own.

From cell phone calls made from crumbling buildings, we learned that to be an American is to love family with a power and a force that transcends even death.

From a group of passengers in a hijacked plane over Pennsylvania, we learned that to be an American is to be brave in the face of hopelessness and to do good for others while evil is being done to oneself.

And from workers at the Pentagon who went to work that day and every day, we learned that to be an American is to love freedom and to show that love every day by serving our great country.

This morning we also went to the Pentagon, shared some sympathies with the families of those who lost their loved ones. One young man showed me the flag that was given to him in memory and honor of his father who perished that day. We also honored the hardhats who rebuilt the Pentagon so that here today on that one-year anniversary we could visit a Pentagon that was restored, a sign of confidence and pride in our country.

With these lessons in mind, we can rest assured that the assault in our heart, the heart of our nation, will only make it beat more strongly. That strength will allow us to triumph over terror militarily, and that strength will allow us to triumph over terror in spirit. We will cherish our freedoms now more than ever and recognize that there is a high cost to freedom. We will draw our loved ones closer and reach out further toward peace with our adversaries.

With that, I would like to once again express gratitude to all who have helped us all grieve. I hope it is a comfort to those who lost their loved ones that so many people throughout the world, and indeed, intensely in our own country, share their grief and are praying for them at this sad time.

God bless America.


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