Below is the text of a speech that I delivered last night in Southbridge on the Town Common at the September 11th remembrance ceremony.
September 11th changed our country and our world forever. We will never again be the same as we were before that day for on that day evil came to our door step. The very essence of our fallen human nature came to rest on the tip of Manhattan, The Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. On that day it appeared that evil had one but we new better. We new that evil does not win and the brave men and women of the fire and police service proved that to be true.
As people were running for their lives away from all of those places these brave men and women were running in. What would cause someone to run toward something that everyone else is running away from? Why would someone risk their lives to save people that they do not even know? What is it? It is the American spirit. It was the American Spirit that looked evil in the face on that day and said today you will not win. We will rise above this and we will come together and come to the aid of out fellow human being! Thanks to these brave men and women evil did not win the day.
We are here at this hour and in this place to remember the events of that day. We come here at this hour and at this place as a community to once again say that evil will not win and that freedom, not matter what the cost, will win the day. We are here at this hour and at this place to say that the people who gave their lives on that day and since that day that they did not do so in vain but their deaths had a purpose. We are here to remember the human reality of that day and not the political reality of that day for this was the day the earth stood still. It was a day when people of all race, color, and creed came together and joined hands. It was a day when all Americans were just simply Americans.
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln spoke these words at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
These words dedicating holy ground ring true with us today. It is our duty to dedcaite ourselves to the unfinished work that they began on that day. We must never, never, never forget what has been done for us. We must never, never, never forget the brave men and women of that day. We must never, never, never forget all of those that gave their live, and we must never, never, never forget those that serve today. The Firefighters, the police, the military, the counselors and the scores of others that serve to make our world a better place.
There is another group of often over looked men and women. This is athe group who have given of themselves and fought for our freedom and who have returned to us wounded. Wounded both phsycally and emotionally. Wounded spiritual and psychologically. We need to care for these brave ones who put their lives on the line to secure our freedom. They deserve our honor and they deserve the best care that we can provide, not peeling paint and mold but the best care that this great nation can provide for it’s greates sons and daughters. Freedom is not free and these men and women have paid the price of our freedom and now we must care for them as the heroes that each and everyone of them are. We must never, never, never forget them and what they have done for us.
My friends to job is not complete. There is much more that needs to be accomplished. The wounds of all of us still need to heal and we need to join together again ,as we all did on that day, and we need to work for peace and justice. We need to work for the peace and justice that this country was founded on and that we are now englaged in a war to protect. But peace begins at home and in our hearts. We need to pledge right here at this hour and in this place that we will work to fight hatred no matter where it is, that we will work to fight violence no matter what the cost. We all need to stand up and say we have had enough and it is time to take our nation back. We owe it to those who perished on that day, to those who have been wounded, to those who are fighting right this very minute to make our world, to make Southbridge a better place. It is time to stop fighting with each other and join forces to fight for what is right. Peace begin within each and everyone of us and that is where we need to start.
As we go about our busy lives, and as another September 11th comes and goes, puase and remember, pause and say thank you. Shake hands with the fire fighters, police, ems and other public servants and thank them for the job they do for they do it gladly and they do it for all of us.
We must never, never, never forget!
God Bless You
God Bless Southbridge
And God BLess America!