On September 11th, New York City suffered the darkest day in our history. It is now up to us to make this our finest hour.
Today we come together in the Capital of the World, as a united City. We're accompanied by religious leaders of every faith, to offer a prayer for the families of those who have been lost to offer a prayer for our City and to offer a prayer for America.
The proud Twin Towers that once crowned our famous skyline -- no longer stand. But our skyline will rise again.
In the words of President George W. Bush, "we will rebuild New York City."
To those who say that our City will never be the same, I say you are right. It will be better.
Now we understand much more clearly why people from all over the globe want to come to New York, and to America why they always have, and why they always will.
It's called freedom, equal protection under law, respect for human life, and the promise of opportunity.
All of the victims of this tragedy were innocent.
All of them were heroes.
The Bible says [John 15:13] "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Our brave New York City Firefighters . . . New York City Police Officers . . . Port Authority Police Officers . . . EMS workers . . . health care workers . . . court officers . . . and uniformed service members . . .
They laid down their lives for strangers. They were inspired by their sense of duty and their love for humanity. As they raced into the Twin Towers and the other buildings to save lives, they didn't stop to ask how rich or poor the person was, they didn't stop to ask what religion, what race, what nationality. They just raced in to save their fellow human beings.
They are the best example of love that we have in our society.
The people they were trying to rescue -- the people who worked in the World Trade Center and the buildings around it -- were each engaged in the quiet heroism of supporting their families, pursuing their dreams and playing their own meaningful part in a diverse, dynamic and free society. They represented more than 60 different nations. They will also occupy a permanent and sacred place in our history and in our hearts.
Even in the midst of the darkest tragedy there are miracles that help our faith to go on. I would like to share one miracle of September 11th with you.
St. Paul's Chapel is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in the City of New York. It was built in 1766, when the surrounding area was still countryside. The Chapel survived our war of independence -- including seven years of wartime occupation.
After George Washington was inaugurated the first President of the United States, in New York City on April 30th, 1789, he walked to St. Paul's, and he kneeled down to pray. The pew where he worshipped is still there. Framed on the wall beside it is the oldest known representation of the Great Seal of the United States of America -- it's a majestic eagle, holding in one talon an olive branch, proclaiming our abiding desire for peace . . . and in the other, a cluster of arrows, a forewarning of our determination to defend our liberty. On a banner above the Eagle is written E Pluribus Unum, "Out of Many, One."
For the past 25 years, the chapel stood directly in the shadow of the World Trade Center Towers. When the Towers fell, more than a dozen modern buildings were destroyed and damaged. Yet somehow, amid all the destruction and devastation, St. Paul's Chapel still stands . . . without so much as a broken window.
It's a small miracle in some ways, but the presence of that chapel standing defiant and serene amid the ruins of war sends an eloquent message about the strength and resilience of the people of New York City, and the people of America.
We unite under the banner of E Pluribus Unum. We find strength in our diversity. We're a city where people look different, talk different, think different. But we're a City at one with all of the people at the World Trade Center, and with all of America. We love our diversity, and we love our freedom.
Like our founding fathers who fought and died for freedom . . . like our ancestors who fought and died to preserve our union and to end the sin of slavery . . . like our fathers and grandfathers who fought and died to liberate the world from Nazism, and Fascism, and Communism . . . the cluster of arrows to defend our freedom, and the olive branch of peace have now been handed to us.
We will hold them firmly in our hands, honor their memory, and lift them up toward heaven to light the world.
In the days since this attack, we have met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity.
We pray for our President, George W. Bush . . . and for our Governor George Pataki . . . who have provided us with such inspiring leadership during these very, very difficult times. We pray for all of those whose loved ones are lost or missing . . . we pray for our children, and we say to them: "Do not be afraid. It's safe to live your life." Finally, we pray for America . . . and for all of those who join us in defending freedom, law, and humanity.
We humbly bow our heads and we ask God to bless the City of New York, and we ask God to bless the United States of America.
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