Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks By Secretary Mattis at Pentagon September 11 Memorial Service


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  Thank you, General Selva.

Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Pence, Your Royal Highness, Cabinet officials, welcome to all of you here on this sacred ground.

And to our first responders who joined us here today, thank you. 

To our most honored guests, the families of those we lost 17 Septembers ago, let me say to you that here in the shadow of our rebuilt Pentagon, we are all part of your larger family.  We stand with you every day in honored tribute of the fallen, of your loved ones. 

In that spirit, this morning we commit ourselves to remembering and honoring the lives that might have been.  We keep faith with the innocent who perished.  We take solace in their deaths were not in vain, for in their passing they empowered us forever with our enduring sense of purpose.  And we remember that hatred disguised in false religious garb to murder innocents will not prevail.

Though evil visited us on a cloudless Tuesday morning, courage and strength answered amid the fire and smoke in New York City, over a Pennsylvania meadow and in this very building, as innocent people from 91 countries were murdered on our soil, many of those countries represented by the foreign dignitaries who join us here today.

We remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who fell here in America, and then on far-flung battlefields.  We salute the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines who nailed our colors to the mast, giving their last full measure of devotion, declaring proudly that Americans do not scare.  And we followed to the end of the Earth those who sought to break our spirit.

Together with the families of the fallen, we remember all that is good, all that is true, and all that is beautiful about those we have lost.  And if we remember them, if we honor them by living as they would have us live, if we in the Department of Defense do our best every day to protect America's promise to the world, then we keep our promise to them and to ourselves and to future generations.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great privilege to introduce the vice president of the United States, Vice President Pence.

(APPLAUSE)