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Diplomacy in Action

UN Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, U.S. Mission to the United Nations
United Nations
New York City
September 9, 2011


Good morning.

Mr. President of the General Assembly, Madam Deputy Secretary-General, Excellencies, colleagues, honored guests, friends—thank you for joining us at this solemn hour.  A decade has passed since a bright and clear September morning became another day that will live in infamy. Al-Qaeda’s attacks killed 3,000 people in this great city, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The killers targeted ordinary Americans of every creed, faith, and color, but they also targeted men, women, and children of 90 countries from every corner of the Earth we share—from Egypt to El Salvador, from India to Indonesia.  And so the world joined together in shock and sorrow. This General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council moved swiftly and surely to condemn the attacks. And the United States banded together with friends and allies to make all of our nations safer and more secure.

The war against al-Qaeda was not one we sought or started. The cost has been heavy. But a decade later, we have made great strides in our shared defense—thanks to the bravery of soldiers, diplomats and intelligence professionals from the United States and many, many partners around the world. Together, we have deprived al-Qaeda of its old and unchallenged safe haven in Afghanistan and brought new hope to the Afghan people. We have brought justice to Osama bin Laden, who will never again kill another innocent. We have strengthened core alliances and built new international partnerships.

And we’ve made clear the stark difference between our shared values of freedom, peace, prosperity and partnership, and the bitter and bankrupt vision of al-Qaeda.  The United States will continue to work with all member states and partners around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda, and to do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores or in countries anywhere in the world. We must all remain vigilant. But we must also remain confident in our shared ability to overcome such a hateful ideology.

Today and on Sunday, above all, we remember the victims and their families. We remember the innocent men and women callously killed for doing nothing more than going to work in the morning. We remember the unimaginable courage of the heroes of Flight 93; the grieving husbands and wives, daughters and sons, friends, co-workers and neighbors; and all those who had loved ones stolen by killers who knew nothing about those they slew.

For most of us, this is a time to interrupt our daily routines and remember a day of enormous loss. But for the loved ones of those murdered on 9/11, every day is a day of sorrow.  Every day, they look for faces that are gone. Every day, they walk with wounds that may, perhaps, fade but will never truly heal.

Nothing we can say will give true comfort to the families and loved ones of the victims of 9/11 and terrorist attacks around the world. But let us remember that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all echo the same insight: if one kills a single person, it is as if they destroyed the entire world; but if one saves a single life, it is as if they saved the entire world. For each soul is incalculably precious; no soul can be replaced.

So today, we affirm again a basic tenet of our common decency and common humanity: to never condone terrorism; to never make excuses for it; to never keep company with those who sow hatred; and to never forget.  Ladies and gentlemen, 9/11 belongs to those who were slain—and to those left behind. And so, as with all who believe in human decency and human dignity, let us pause and bow our heads—one human family, united in loss and love.

Thank you.

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