View the President's Remarks
9:48 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very
much. Joe, thank you for those kind words, and thank you for
your outstanding service in a difficult time for our great land.
I want to thank Hal Bruno and the
directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for the
outstanding leadership they have shown in recognizing America's
I want to say thanks to the members of the
Maryland delegation who are here -- Senator Sarbanes, Senator Mikulski,
Congressman Hoyer and Congressman Bartlett. I want to thank
you all for being here. I want to thank the local officials
who are here. I want to thank the firefighters from all
around America who have come to comfort the families of the fallen.
I want to say hello to moms and dads and
husbands and wives and sons and daughters of the
fallen. Laura and I are honored to be here with you today,
as we remember the lives and sacrifices of your brave relatives.
Two years ago this weekend, I attended a
memorial ceremony in New York City honoring fallen
firefighters. And standing nearby were Chief Peter Ganci and
many others who are now gone. None of us on that day could
have imagined what was to come, the scale of the emergency, the
enormity of the danger, the magnitude of the evil. Yet, each
one of those firefighters felt a strong calling and knew its risks.
On September 11th, that calling led them
into burning towers on a mission of rescue. Within a single
hour, more than 300 firefighters were lost. And our nation
still mourns. They did not live to know who had caused the
destruction, or why. They only knew their
duty. And that was to go in, to follow the faintest cry, to
search for the trapped and helpless, and to save those who could be
A few days ago, one New Yorker described
firefighters as "the kinds of guys you look up to." Every
one of you here knew exactly what he meant. The courage and loss we
saw in New York is found in every community that has laid a firefighter
to rest. Hardly a week passes in America when a career or a
volunteer firefighter does not fall in the line of duty.
Fire-fighting is a hard and demanding
job. And it may at any moment send a person to the high heat
or thick smoke. It's been said that a firefighter's first
act of bravery is taking the oath to serve. And all of them
serve, knowing that one day they may not come home.
Today we honor 101 who did not come
home. They were all people who accepted the dangers of
fire-fighting, and were last seen on duty. We add their
names to this national monument. We do so with pride, and
with deep gratitude.
The nation pays respect to them for their
service and their sacrifice. And we respect you, their families, for
your sacrifice -- for the heavy burden you carry to this
day. The McCormicks of Arkansas; the Hendricks of Kentucky;
the Pascatores of Pennsylvania -- each lost a son who was not yet 20
years old. The families of Bo Rathbun of Wyoming; Jim Reavis
of Missouri; Fred Brain and Pete Scannell of New York; Kenneth Jesse of
Pennslyvania. Lost loved ones who were willing to serve,
even in the latter years of life.
Many were taken during the fullest days of
life, that time when we are needed most by the people we
love. Kimberly Smith of Texas was engaged to be
married. Robert Crump of Colorado was home after honorable
service in the Marine Corps. Marvin Bartholemew of Florida
had paid his way through college and was working his way up the ranks
of the department.
Roger Bookout was 34 years old when he
died, and he was a loving dad. He had a great outlook, and it was
summed up on a sign he kept on his locker -- "Love your wife; love your
life." All these firefighters loved life. And
Scripture teaches, there is no greater love than to lay down one's life
Sometimes a person cannot know for sure
what mark he or she has left on the world. That will never
be said of the people we remember today, or of their
kind. They were strong and caring people, brave and
upright. You could always count on them. You
could always look up to them.
This firefighters monument belongs to the
nation, and represents a national loss. The firefighters
belong to you. And I know that loss can never be recovered.
A fireman's widow recently said that her
husband was her hero, "and there's nothing I wouldn't do to have my
hero here." That same feeling is shared by many here today,
and time won't ever take it away. But the years can bring
comfort -- and they can bring hope. You'll always know that
your hero died in the service of others. You can give one
another the strength to go on. You can find the comfort of
God, who is with us, especially in sorrow. And you can know
today that your loved ones are not forgotten. They hold an honored,
cherished place in the memories of their comrades, and an honored place
in the memory of our country.
God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 9:55 A.M. EDT
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