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September 11 Remembrance CeremonyRawlins Park, Washington, DC

Remarks by
Stephen A. Perry
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration

September 11 Remembrance Ceremony
Rawlins Park, Washington, DC
9/11/02


Ladies and gentlemen, I certainly want to begin by thanking all of you for being here on this very solemn occasion. I know that this is an emotionally difficult time for many of you and yet, you have summoned up the strength to be here for this important commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America.

I really appreciate the fact that you have decided to come to this memorial ceremony

To show your support of the innocent victims and their families; 

To show your support of all the people, including your fellow federal workers, who were impacted by the violent, deadly attacks; and

To show your support of the ideals of freedom, democracy, the American way of life and the principles of liberty upon which this great nation was founded.

In doing so, you send a clear message to the world, that we will stand together, more closely than ever before, united against terrorism. And we are fully prepared to protect and defend the life and liberty of our fellow Americans. So, again, thank you so much for being here today. I want to thank Randy Snow and his team for doing such a great job in arranging this wonderful ceremony.

I particularly want to say a very special thank you to OPM Director Kay Coles James for her participation and remarks. Kay, I also want to take this occasion to publicly thank you and your team at OPM for the extraordinary support you have provided to GSA. We sincerely appreciate your leadership and creative assistance. Thanks also to Joe Moravec [Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service] for serving as our master of ceremonies and Donald Williams [Regional Administrator for GSA's National Capital Area] for making remarks.

As you know, all too well, today, 9-11-2002 is the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on America. Anniversaries provide a time for reflecting on the past and then using the information from our reflection to resolve a course for our future. That's what we should do today¿reflect and resolve.

As we reflect back on last year, I'm sure we all recall vividly the early hours of last September 11, as we first began to get the news about the terrorist attacks that had occurred in New York at the World Trade Center; and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and right here in Washington D.C. at the Pentagon. As the horror unfolded before our disbelieving eyes - it seemed surreal. It seemed like something out of a science fiction movie or something out of a very bad dream. But we soon realized that it was not a movie or a bad dream, but rather it was very real indeed.

Before we had time to fully consider the magnitude of what had happened and what was happening and what might happen next, we began to quickly and almost instinctively take the courageous actions necessary:
To save those who were trapped in the burning buildings¿we remember with great pride the work of our Federal Protective Service Officers in the evacuation and search and rescue efforts.
We took actions to care for the injured by supporting FEMA, the police and firefighters, and other first responder agencies.
We took actions to get our own family members out of dangerous areas and to a safe place
And, we took actions to provide for the ongoing operation of our federal government.

On 9-11 and on the days that followed, there were many nearly impossible tasks that each of us and our agencies were called upon to do in order to provide people with the government services and assistance they needed so desperately. You worked very hard, day and night, to make it happen. In retrospect, I'm sure every American is very proud of the excellent way the federal government responded to the disaster. You performed thousands of acts of courage and compassion. While we certainly mourn the loss of life and injuries that were suffered, it is important to note that without doubt, some lives were saved and injuries were prevented because of your prompt actions and the prompt actions of people in other federal agencies who responded so quickly, courageously and professionally to the 9-11 attacks.

Now a year has passed. The time has flown by in what seems like just the twinkling of an eye. We have had a little time to think about what we went through on 9-11 and the days and weeks subsequent to that infamous day. We have had a little time to think about how our world got to the point where such a violent act could occur, right here in the United States of America. And very importantly, we have had a little time to think about the important question of, where do we go from here. Where do we go from hear as a world of countries and peoples who inhabit this planet together? Where do we go from here as a nation, as a community and as individuals?  Some important related questions include:

What can you and I do now to make a positive difference in the quality of life in the future? What can you and I do now to spare our children and our children's children from living in a world plagued by the threat of terror and violence¿. and the possibility of being the targets of weapons of mass destruction?

So, on this first anniversary of the 9-11 attack, let us resolve to determine the answers to these questions and to take positive actions to help make this world and our community a better place. Each of us will have to determine our own personal answers to the questions about what we will do.
In arriving at the answers, I would encourage you to include the following two areas in your thoughts:
First, given that we are in public service and working for the federal government,
And given the importance of federal government services to the quality of life of the American people,
And given the critically important role that our agencies play as a part of our nation's federal government,
Let us resolve to re-dedicate ourselves to carrying out our personal role to achieve our agency's mission with excellence.

A second area to consider is "volunteerism." President Bush has called upon all of us in the federal government to get even more involved in volunteering our time and talent for worthy causes and community services. At GSA we are launching an initiative to encourage and accommodate volunteerism. Of course, each of us will have to select our own area of interest. But we can resolve to begin to do; or continue to do; or do more of the volunteer activities, which we believe, will be most beneficial in making our community and our world a better place.

As each of us carries out these actions, we will be making a fitting tribute to those who perished on 9-11. Our actions will be a part of their legacy - and we will help to ensure that they shall not have died in vain. Let the memory of 9-11 ignite the spirit of excellence in our work in government and our volunteer activities so that our efforts in both of these areas will become a great and powerful force for positive change in our lives and the lives of our fellow human beings in America and throughout the world.

May God give us the strength, and wisdom and confidence that we can achieve these good things. Let our efforts help to replace misunderstanding, hatred and terrorism in the world¿with understanding, love and peace on earth. May god continue to bless each and every one of us, and may God bless America.

Thank you very much.