Last year, on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford honored those who died, their families and loved ones, as well as the survivors of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people.
Mattis and Dunford spoke alongside President Trump at the Pentagon last year, where 184 lives were lost 16 years ago.
“We are here to honor those 2,977 lives claimed by the brutal attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – the men and women who woke that day, never anticipating an attack on their place of work or against this country, innocents who hailed from 90 nations and all walks of life,” Mattis said.
“Attackers perpetrated murder that fateful day. But heroism and compassion were boundless on 9/11. Patriots from all backgrounds and all walks of life responded with speed, with courage and with compassion,” Mattis added.
“In the aftermath of the attack,” Mattis continued, “our service members – our nation – rallied together as one. For while we had never asked for this fight, we are steadfastly committed to seeing it through, as President Trump has made abundantly clear, and with no more temporizing, as our example of leadership galvanized other nations to stand united against this threat to all humankind.”
Mattis said that “maniacs disguised in false religious garb” would not scare America.
“Maniacs disguised in false religious garb thought, by hurting us, they could scare us that day. But we Americans are not made of cotton candy. We are not seaweed drifting in the current. We are not intimidated by our enemies. And, Mr. President, your military does not scare,” he said.
Dunford said that the United States is committed in its continued fight for freedom.
“Sixteen years ago, when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Center, and as they attempted other attacks in Washington D.C., they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values,” Dunford said.
“The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values. And, as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat. But they were wrong,” he continued.
“Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve,” Dunford said. “Instead of hopelessness, mourning turned into action. And we have strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.”
“If we truly want to honor those remembered today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values in the cause of freedom,” Dunford said. “Each of us will walk away from this simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over and that further sacrifice will be required, and each of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect their family, friends and fellow citizens from another 9/11.”