Honoring the Victims of September 11, 2001

3 minutes read time
A U.S. flag sits in the foreground, as two giant towers of light illuminate the lower Manhattan skyline as a visual memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11.
A U.S. flag sits in the foreground, as two giant towers of light illuminate the lower Manhattan skyline as a visual memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Honoring the Victims of September 11, 2001

Today, I had the privilege to join my colleagues to honor the victims of the events of September 11, 2001, the worst terrorist attack to befall this nation.  We suffered a profound loss of lives that day, in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Americans from all backgrounds and citizens from more than 90 countries around the world lost their lives on that day. We honor their lives, and we will not forget them.

That day changed America. More personally, many of us who lived through that day were changed forever by the experience. Some, roused to action, have joined our military to help keep us strong as a nation.  Some wonderful examples of those fine soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines joined us at the Department’s remembrance ceremony today, and I was proud to acknowledge their patriotism and thank them for their service to our nation.

During the Department's September 11 Remembrance Ceremony on September 11, 2018, Deputy Secretary Sullivan joins speakers and guests for a moment of silence after a bell toll, four of which occurred to mark the moment of impact of each hijacked commercial airliner that crashed during the 9/11 attacks. (State Department photo/Public Domain)

Others answered their nation’s call in other ways. I was pleased to honor and recognize the service of our patriots at the State Department — dedicated individuals who have also answered their nation’s call.  

In the years since the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, many others have also given their lives while seeking a world free from the scourge of terrorism. In particular, we recall the deaths on another 9/11 – in 2012 – of our State Department colleagues Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty in Benghazi, Libya. We honor their memory, their commitment and their passion in helping the Libyan people to build a better future. The United States will spare no effort to ensure that justice is done for these proud Americans.

During the Department's 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, Deputy Secretary Sullivan delivered remarks and laid a memorial wreath to honor those lost 17 years ago. (State Department photo)

Our response as a nation to the events of September 11, 2001 was and still is far more important than what the terrorists did that day.  The country united and refocused our energies on the cause of justice and on the sacrifices made in the name of freedom, at home and abroad.  Let us continue to strive to be an example of justice to the world. Let us continue the work to create a society that inspires the world.

As I emphasized in my remarks today, it is through cooperation between our military and diplomats that we can successfully transition from winning wars to resolving arguments, from clashing with enemies to making friends.  Diplomacy is the process of solving the inevitable tensions that develop between nations and of bridging the gap when there are differences of interests or values. The need for a robust diplomacy is stronger today than ever before.

About the Author: John J. Sullivan serves as the Deputy Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.