We gather here in prayer today to be as close as possible to the place where our friends and family on Flight 800 spent their final moments. Two hundred and thirty lives have ended, 230 personal tragedies that the world shares with all of you today.
This disaster has been a staggering blow to each of us, and really to the entire world. Everyone feels directly involved in this tragedy...I too have friends who were on Flight 800... Most people I've met knew someone on that flight... And now I think the whole country feels the same way.
Those 230 people have become for us, collectively, our fathers and mothers, our daughters and sons... our brothers and sisters... our neighbors, our friends. They touched each of our lives in a very special way -- lives that were abruptly ended -- and we have come to know them as people.
I remember a friend who was in the prime of his life. He was going on a business trip. I remember a campaign volunteer who had a very special zest for life and for living. And I remember learning from many of you first hand about some of the passengers and crew... seeing their pictures... hearing about their hopes and their dreams. We know them as Governor Ridge so eloquently explained to us as students brimming with the energy and the promise of youth. We know them as crew members of T.W.A. -- some working, some returning to Paris -- of all of them upholding the highest standards of a very demanding profession of service. We know them as men and women of business... as French, Italian and Israeli citizens returning home... As Americans travelling to France and Italy and to further destinations.
We were with them as they looked forward to a vacation ... or as they reminisced about a visit to New York...or as they looked out the window at this beach...We are drawn together on these sands to reach out across the ocean... from America to France, to Italy, to the rest of the world affected by this.
We share this loss together, not as men or women from different nations or religions or races, but as all children of the same God. Our grief and our sorrow shows us that there is strength -- great strength -- in coming together and sharing what we lost. We also affirm that the voices on Flight 800, the voices that have been stilled... We will carry on by seeking answers -- answers that will allow those who are gone to rest in peace.
We must to do all that we can to prevent this pain and suffering from happening to others. In life, these 230 lives all had meaning, and purpose. In death, let them also have meaning, and purpose. Let us pursue the answers to this tragedy... wherever it leads... Let's have justice... Let's have deterrence for the future... Let's resolve to improve security and safety...but most of all, let's have peace, peace founded in a growing recognition that these 230 lives and souls bring all decent men and women together in grief and sorrow, and in faith and in love.
Let it also serve to bring all of us together forever to pursue justice, peace and resolution. As we hear the waves behind us, let's remember the words of the 93rd Psalm, which tells us from thousands of years ago: "The Lord God on high is mightier than the thunder of great waters...he is mightier than the breakers of the sea." May God bless those who have been taken from us and let them enter the Kingdom of Heaven and, most of all, may God give us the strength to persevere.