For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 14, 2001
Remarks by the President
At National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service
the National Cathedral
1:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: We are here in
the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great
a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come
before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who love
On Tuesday, our country was attacked with
deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and
ashes, and bent steel.
Now come the names, the list of casualties
we are only beginning to read. They are the names of men and women who
began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with
life. They are the names of people who faced death, and in
their last moments called home to say, be brave, and I love you.
They are the names of passengers who
defied their murderers, and prevented the murder of others on the
ground. They are the names of men and women who wore the
uniform of the United States, and died at their posts.
They are the names of rescuers, the ones
whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help
others. We will read all these names. We will
linger over them, and learn their stories, and many Americans will
To the children and parents and spouses
and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of
the nation. And I assure you, you are not alone.
Just three days removed from these events,
Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our
responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and
rid the world of evil.
War has been waged against us by stealth
and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce
when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing
and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour,
of our choosing.
Our purpose as a nation is
firm. Yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed,
and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there
is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick's Cathedral
in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, "I prayed to God to give us a
sign that He is still here." Others have prayed for the
same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still
God's signs are not always the ones we
look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not
always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering,
whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard,
There are prayers that help us last
through the day, or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and
strangers, that give us strength for the journey. And there
are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.
This world He created is of moral
design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a
time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no
end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who
It is said that adversity introduces us to
ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In
this trial, we have been reminded, and the world has seen, that our
fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and
brave. We see our national character in rescuers working
past exhaustion; in long lines of blood donors; in thousands of
citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.
And we have seen our national character in
eloquent acts of sacrifice. Inside the World Trade Center, one man who
could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his
quadriplegic friend. A beloved priest died giving the last
rites to a firefighter. Two office workers, finding a
disabled stranger, carried her down sixty-eight floors to
safety. A group of men drove through the night from Dallas
to Washington to bring skin grafts for burn victims.
In these acts, and in many others,
Americans showed a deep commitment to one another, and an abiding love
for our country. Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt
called the warm courage of national unity. This is a unity
of every faith, and every background.
It has joined together political parties
in both houses of Congress. It is evident in services of
prayer and candlelight vigils, and American flags, which are displayed
in pride, and wave in defiance.
Our unity is a kinship of grief, and a
steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this
unity against terror is now extending across the world.
America is a nation full of good fortune,
with so much to be grateful for. But we are not spared from
suffering. In every generation, the world has produced
enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America,
because we are freedom's home and defender. And the
commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.
On this national day of prayer and
remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us
patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will
comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank
Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to
As we have been assured, neither death nor
life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor
things to come, nor height nor depth, can separate us from God's
love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He
comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.
God bless America.