The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, spoke at the Pentagon memorial ceremony, where he expressed his condolences and said that America must be “tireless” in protecting its values of liberties, rights, and the rule of law.
“On behalf of the Department of Defense, let me renew our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those lost on 9/11, including the 184 souls taken from us in the attack on the Pentagon, in the building, and on Flight 77. We know that you carry pain every day. We know that you bear your losses—not just at times of ceremony, but also in ordinary moments of absence, in quiet minutes that can seem to stretch on for hours,” Austin said. “All of us are here because we remember, and I hope knowing that is at least some measure of comfort.”
“We know that the memories can be hard to bear. We know the sorrow doesn’t end. But over the years, we hope, that the good memories come to us more often and more easily. And today, we remember not just who our fallen teammates were, we remember the mission that they shared, and we recall their common commitment to defend our republic and to squarely face new dangers,” Austin also said.
Austin later remarked that “as years march on, we must ensure that all our fellow Americans know and understand what happened here on 9/11, and in Manhattan, and in Shanksville Pennsylvania. It is our responsibility to remember, and it is our duty to defend democracy.”
“We cannot know what the next 20 years will bring. We cannot know what new dangers they will carry. We cannot foresee what Churchill called the ‘originality of malice,’ but we do know that America will always lead and we do know the only compass that can guide is through the storms ahead, it is our court values and the principles enshrined in our Constitution—liberty, rights, the rule of law, and the fierce commitment to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
“It is our job to defend the great experiment that is America, to protect this exceptional republic, body and soul, and to defend the American people in our democracy even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard,” Austin also said. “Ladies and gentlemen, we must be tireless guardians of our ideals as well as our security because we cannot have one without the other.”