Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, friends and family of survivors and the fallen, thank you for being here for this morning’s ceremony.
My wife Ricki and I offer a very special welcome to each and every one of the survivors and the families and friends of those who lost their lives on these grounds fourteen years ago today.
We know these memorial ceremonies – and you’ve been through many – are tough, emotion-filled moments for you … and thank you for being here with us.
It takes a great deal of courage to come back on a day like today that’s not unlike that day in 2001 that can bring back such stark relief that first, raw moment when everything changed.
Your grief and your solace, so personal to you, is shared with all of us in this nation.
Today our nation joins with you to reflect and to remember. The 184 lives that ended here at the Pentagon and those that perished in New York and at Somerset County were fellow Americans, members of our nation’s family. Members of our families.
But, today is about strength and resolve. We find strength in the children and spouses of the survivors who carried on and who are here to celebrate the memories of their relatives. They have blossomed into great families and into fine, young men and women that we should all be very, very proud of. And they are out there today making their mark on our world.
I also see in the eyes of members of this audience the resolve of this nation to defend freedom and liberty wherever it is challenged; an entire generation of young American men and women have put their lives on the line for the concepts of freedom and liberty that we hold dear.
Today offers all of us an opportunity to rededicate our lives to those causes to the things that make this nation great. Ricki and I appreciate all of you being here to share this day with us … to allow us to share this day with you.
It’s now my privilege to introduce to you our Secretary of Defense, the honorable Ashton Carter.