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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the Pentagon Wreath Laying Ceremony

By General Martin E. Dempsey
Pentagon, Va. —

Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, thank you for being here this morning.

I want to offer a special welcome to the families and friends of those we lost on these grounds thirteen years ago today.

We know these memorial ceremonies – and you’ve been through many – are especially tough, emotion-filled moments for you. 

It takes a great deal of courage to come back here so thank you for being here.
Not long ago, I received a note from a mom whose daughter is buried just across the way at Arlington Cemetery.  She said the pain of losing someone you love – even years later – never really goes away. 

At any instant, or a smell, or a color, or a song, or a date on the calendar like today can bring into stark relief that first, raw moment when everything changed.

She said if there’s any secret to grieving, it’s that there can be room for sorrow and joy, sadness and pride to exist in the same space at the same time. 

And she learned that grief is not a lack of faith, nor a sign of weakness.  It is the price of love. 

Today is foremost about reflecting and about remembering … and about the love for the 184 lives that ended here at the Pentagon and those that perished in New York and in Somerset County.

Today is also about strength and about resolve.

We find strength in the children who lost parents on 9/11 and who have blossomed into fine, young adults and are now making their own mark on their world.

We find resolve in the men and women that 9/11 roused to step forward to defend our country—a generation that has served in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

And today offers us – all of us – the opportunity to rededicate our own lives to the causes of our great Nation … and its great future.

For as one of our Nation’s leaders said, “We could easily allow our time and energy to be consumed by the crisis of the moment, of the day … but we must also lay the groundwork to help define the future.”

It’s now my privilege to introduce the person who spoke these words and strives to live them every day, our Nation's Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.