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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remembering The 9/11 Massacre: The First One

I will be writing more about 9/11/2001, and 9/11/ 2012 in the coming days. I present, meanwhile, the speech I gave as Charge of the Embassy in Colombo at a memorial service for the dead of the first 9/11 attack. The service was held at a local church on September 14, 2001. The entire diplomatic corps attended, as did much of the Sri Lankan government, as well as  hundreds of ordinary people, many of whom had to stand outside the large church.

Begin Text (as delivered)

On behalf of the American Embassy, Government, and people, I want to thank Reverend Gardner and all of you for coming here on a Saturday afternoon to express your solidarity, condolences, and good wishes as we try to grapple with the enormity of the crime committed on September 11, 2001 - - a crime that cost the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
All of us in the Embassy are deeply touched by the enormous and genuine outpouring of sympathy and support from the international community, from the Government of Sri Lanka and from the people of this country, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim.  Thank you, thank you all very much.
I also want to take this opportunity to express heartfelt condolences to the people of our closest friend and ally, the United Kingdom.  They have lost scores perhaps hundreds of their fellow citizens in the attack on the World Trade Center.  We should not forget the many British families are today suffering the anguish of not knowing what has happened to their loved ones, or that of knowing all too well what has happened.  This is not the first time American and British citizens die together at the hands of a common foe and in a common cause -- and it probably won’t be the last time.  
The people of dozens of other countries, including Sri Lanka, people of all races and religions, including at least 50 Muslims, fell to the terrorists, and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 21st century.  
As a colleague of mine noted yesterday, civilization now confronts a new version of the cult of Assassins who, just as did those of the 11th century, proclaim loud fealty to a religion and then violate its principal tenants.  And, Ladies and Gentlemen, I say the following well aware that we are in a church, in a place dedicated to the propagation of peace and brotherly love:  Civilization must and will strike back; civilization must and will win this war in which we confront evil men who have no regard for human life; men who turn ploughshares into swords and then use them against defenseless innocents.
I don’t know what message the terrorists sought to deliver September 11; I don’t know their grievance or their cause.

 And, furthermore, I don’t care!  I don’t care!

Whatever it was, whatever their cause was, it has been hopelessly perverted by and lost in the evil of their deeds.
And evil must, and will be confronted and it will be defeated.  
During the just-concluded 20th century, civilization also fought great evil -- Fascism, Nazism, and Communism -- and triumphed, at great cost, but it triumphed.  And it will again.  In opposition to our democracy, freedom, and the rule of law, our opponents offer hate, desolation, destruction, and death, most especially death.

Let me quote from a poem written during the fierce battle for Guadalcanal by US Marine Corps Private First Class Vincent Cassidy:
“Does it grieve you, Death,
      that I defy you,
  that I refuse to be taken by you?
Be aforehand warned
   And plan it well,
If you intend my doom to spell,
   For I intend to fight . . .”
And fight we will.
  
In the words of the Scottish “Ballad of Andrew Barton,”
"I am hurt, but I am not slaine;
I'le lay mee downe and bleed a-while,
And then I'le rise and ffight againe.”
If anybody doubts that, turn to the words of one of the great heroes of the 20th century, one of the men who saved the civilized world, perhaps the greatest statesman who ever lived, and a man who knew America very well, Sir Winston Churchill.   

In his volume The Grand Alliance, he eloquently describes his reaction on hearing about the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of America into WWII on the side of Britain:
“No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy.  {. . .} So we had won after all! {. . . }  Silly people, and there were many, not only in enemy countries, might discount the force of the United States.  Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united.  They would fool around at a distance.  They would never come to grips.  They would never stand blood-letting.  Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyse their war effort.  They would be just a vague blur on the horizon to friend or foe.  Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people.  But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch.  American blood flowed in my veins.  I thought of a remark which Edward Grey had made to me more than thirty years before – that the United States is like ‘a gigantic boiler.  Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate.’  Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the boiler is lit.
And those who lit it on September 11, 2001, will learn the lesson learned by those who lit it sixty years ago, on December 7, 1941.  Then we all, too, will be able to sleep “the sleep of the saved and thankful.” 
Welcome to the 21st century.    
Thank you.

End Text

WLA

17 comments:

  1. Dip, what a well turned and accurate speech! Thanks for providing us with it. I never read the Churchill remarks, but they too, are accurate and so prophetic. Your speech builds inspirationally, then closes with an effective reminder of how history will repeat itself against an ancient evil, American style, again.

    It may be that in another vein, we may see a similar uprising as occurred a couple days ago with our brothers in the land of oz. We tend to be slow sometimes, and slow to boil, too, sometimes, but we contain many who are a resevoir of deep reality. Tested we are, and tested we may more be, but there are many who are seeing their reality, already, who are Americans, truly.
    Jack

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  2. how does this work operationally? as an fso you're going to give a talk.. in this case at an extremely important time in an important place... is this something that a whole lot of fsos ended up doing simultaneously? As an officer with a commission, I guess that makes the content of what you'd write/say there your own responsibility as an extension of the executive? pretty much like a military officer in parlay with an enemy force?
    Wish more of the speeches I heard were like this, particularly after 9/11 when so many of the crazies were trying to find excuses for the attacks.
    - Reader #1482

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  3. As British I thank you for your inclusion of our dead, so many choose to forget that America was not alone on this terrible day.

    I, rather than Churchill, tend towards Kipling in this instance. However, I feel that the Saxon has, even now, not yet awoken. Soon though.

    Never to be forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you haven’t seen, take a moment and check out:
      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/09/a-day-to-be-proud-4.php
      One of the things I find the most regrettable about the Obama presidency is the weakening of the ties between us and the other English speaking countries. If you believe, as I do, that the Anglo alliance has been an irreplaceable force for good in the world for the last century, it is very concerning. I think the degradation of those ties is conscious policy with these jokers.

      I don’t have a problem with Asia, per se, but must admit I wince when I hear the barely contained glee with which some of our elite describe the rise of china and the corresponding decline of the Anglo bloc. I am probably too pessimistic and things will snap back with new US leadership, but I fear the demographics changes in the US and Britain may preclude another Reagan/Thatcher Churchill/Roosevelt from emerging during the next historical pivot.

      Delete
    2. I feel the same way. The Anglosphere Challenge will first be to repair the damage done by Leftist elites. I believe China will have a few more years to run before internal forces drag them into many years of strife. The Anglosphere is capable of enduring many strains.

      Delete
    3. Your welcome Able. And I remember the service at St. Pauls, which was very nice.

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  4. I awoke around 3 am remembering the freshness of 2001 and 2012 and I prayed for the families of all those who were killed by Muslim extremists on those two days....

    And I prayed for my poor country for quite awhile. And for those fighting still for freedoms few seem to care about.
    May God continue to place His hand of protection upon us and may we live in such a way that we stand for truth in all things....

    And I prayed for the good Lord to bring all our troops home safely to their families....
    ETR

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  5. That was an excellent speech!

    Unfortunately, under Obama the boiler is steadily cooling and our leaders prefer to blame our problems with the Muslim world on inane and irrelevant YouTube videos than on the more relevant fundamental issues.

    I'm concerned that the U.S. won't truly get serious about dealing with radical Islam until we have another version of 9-11, but on a larger scale involving tens of thousands of casualties from a weapon of mass destruction.

    And honestly, it's as much in the interest of radical Islam to avoid going down that path as it is in ours. The U.S. response to 9-11 was nothing compared to what would likely happen if the center of a major American city was wrecked by a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapon . . . . .

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  6. Echoing your title Diplomad, I choose to this day, set aside all that which I might be scornful of on other days.

    And simply, reminisce and reflect on Sara Low. As does my friend in the ROK.

    http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/

    Arkie

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  7. Sir, allow me to use a FB abbreviation: "WORD!!"

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  8. I wonder if President Dufus, and Sec State Bumbles are going to remember what today is, and maybe take some precautions with our folks overseas.

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  9. An excellent speech---a speech, of course, that would be impossible for any American diplomat to give under the current administration.

    The boiler was indeed lit, but immediately after 9/11, the whole "progressive" crew...the media, the "community organizers," the entertainers, the vast majority of professors...all began to close the dampers and squirt the fire with their hoses.

    They were far more afraid of the controlled fire within the boiler than they were of the raging fire outside, which the power generated by the boiler was required to fight.

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  10. Thanks for sharing that speech, I wish I had heard it in person. Very well done. - Krag

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  11. Well done. I only wish your sentiments were more common, or at least popular, in the State Department.

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  12. I hate to be pedantic, but September 14, 2001 was a Friday, not a Saturday (still remember that after the intervening years).

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  13. I suspect the fires will soon be lit.
    Americans will reach their tipping point with political correctness and acquiescence and then the world will tremble before them again.
    'Twas ever thus....

    ReplyDelete