Five-Year 9/11 Remembrance Honors Victims from 90 Countries
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington – Five years ago, evil swept into America’s skies and onto American soil, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on September 11, and the victims of the 2001 attacks in the United States by al-Qaida terrorists included people from around the world.
“In a violent instant, thousands of innocent souls were stolen from us,” Rice said.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, were the worst assault on American land in the country’s history and also attacked the universal ideals of peace, liberty and human rights, Rice said. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked jet crashed into a field.
The State Department ceremony in Washington offered Rice, the diplomatic corps, State Department officials and foreign dignitaries, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the opportunity to reflect on the human losses experienced by the survivors of all nationalities. Rui Zheng, whose parents were passengers on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon, and Floura Chowdhury, whose cousins Nurul Miah and Shakila Yasmin were killed as they worked in the World Trade Center, read the names of the countries that lost citizens in the attacks.
In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed, including 60 police officers and 343 firefighters who responded to the scene in New York City.
During the morning rush hour on September 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, who is still at-large, hijacked four passenger jets and flew them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania. United Airlines flight 11, en route from Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center with 92 people aboard; American Airlines flight 77, from Washington to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon with 64 people aboard; United Airlines flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles with 65 people aboard, was the second hijacked plane to strike the World Trade Center, plowing into the south tower; and United Airlines flight 93, from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco crashed in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania, with 45 people aboard.
REMEMBRANCE AT THE PENTAGON
Marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 at the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace led families and dignitaries in remembering the 184 people who died at the Pentagon. “We hope in some way that this remembrance today and the ceremonies like it all over our country will tell you that we are with you; we will never forget.” (See related article.)
Now five years later, Pace said the number of U.S. military personnel who have died prosecuting the war against terrorism is approaching the number of people who were murdered, not only at the Pentagon, but also in New York and Pennsylvania.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cited terror attacks elsewhere in the world. “Today we remember all of those who lost their lives, not only on September 11th,” he said, “but in the struggle we have faced against extremists now for more than two decades: the 241 Marines killed in Beirut [Lebanon]; the sailors on the USS Cole; the airline passengers flying over Lockerbie, Scotland; subway riders in Madrid [Spain] and London; the children going to school in Beslan, Russia.”
Rumsfeld said many of the terrorists who have not been killed or captured are on the run. “They have lost their sanctuary in Afghanistan,” he said, as well as the support of captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who had been paying $25,000 to the families of successful suicide bombers. But the remaining terrorists still try daily “to convince us to doubt our prospects, to distrust one another and to believe that the battle against them cannot be won or is not worth the costs,” the secretary said.
The greatest tribute that can be paid to those who went to work at the Pentagon September 11, 2001, and never went home again as well as to the 1.3 million Americans who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, said Rumsfeld, is to do “everything possible to fight the extremists wherever they are.” (See related article.)
Vice President Cheney, who joined Rumsfeld and Pace in paying tribute to lives lost, said September 11 “is a day of national unity.”
When the government shifted to a war footing five years ago, the U.S. mission was clear, Cheney said: “To defend America against a present danger and to offer a democracy and hope as the alternative to extremism and terror.” (See related article.)
FROM THE UNITED NATIONS
In New York City, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on U.N. member states to honor the 9/11 victims and victims of terrorism everywhere by taking swift action to implement all aspects of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on September 8.
“In this way,” Annan said, “they will demonstrate the international community’s unwavering determination to defeat terrorism.” The global terrorism strategy underlines the resolve of all governments to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms, and strengthen the individual and collective capacity of states and the United Nations to do so – while ensuring the protection of human rights, Annan said.
The September 11 attacks “cut us all to the core, for they were an attack on humanity itself,” Annan said.
All 191 members of the United Nations agreed at a World Summit in New York in 2005 on a condemnation of terrorism. (See related article.)
“The fight against terrorism is a fight for values and principles that are universal,” said Warren W. Tichenor, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, in a ceremony there. “Much more unites us as citizens of the world than divides us. All major religions teach that life is precious, and that taking innocent life, including your own, is wrong,” Tichenor said after leading a moment of silence observed at 2:46 p.m. local time (8:46 a.m. Eastern Time), the hour at which American Airlines flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The fifth anniversary of 9/11 is a reminder of the shared challenge faced by an international community confronting terrorism, he said. “It has brought tragedy and terrible grief to innocent people across the world, from Indonesia to Morocco, Spain, Jordan, England, India and Egypt. Terrorists have shown no mercy for human life regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.”
A transcript of Rice’s remarks is available on the State Department Web site.
The full text of Rumsfeld’s prepared remarks is available on the Defense Department’s Web site.