(Editor’s Note: The following speech was given by Judge William D. Smith during a special 9/11 memorial service held Sunday afternoon at Huber Park.)
My friends, we gather here today to pay homage and tribute to those who are no longer with us but whose memory will long affect us.
We, like millions of other Americans, remember what we did and where we were 10 have not forgotten our feelings and emotions – sometimes of helplessness, of frustration, of forlorn, and of anger – as we watched planes crash, fires burn, buildings tumble and victims, along with brave rescuers, die.
These, mostly our fellow citizens, were people, like you and me, who wanted nothing more to peacefully live their lives, free of overreaching evil, and so fulfill their dreams and those of their loved ones.
That day, the world changed. American ideals did not, for they are timeless. Let’s remember.
My purpose is that we neither resurrect nor wallow in those dreaded feelings and emotions, but that we be moved beyond them to resolve never to be so victimized by such evil again and to be spurred on by our American ideals.
As we were moved by the actions of the first responders, let us all also, individually, resolve to be first responders. You see, our story, as Americans, is replete with this type of attitude and this resulting course of action.
Remember that this lesson is the larger, more significant lessons to be learned from Sept. 11, 2001, a lesson taught over and over in American history.
Remember the lesson of the first responders. We’ve always been a nation of first responders. Hear me, as I explain.
My wife Kaye and I visited New England this past July. We stood on Lexington’s green and by the rude bridge at Concord.
We were at the very spot the minutemen “fired the shot heard around the world.” It impressed me that these patriots were indeed our first – “first responders.”
These men were also moved by the unjust deaths of 8 of their countrymen killed on Lexington’s green by a power they considered their own, at the time. But tyranny, oppression, and evil approached with the red coats that Sunday morning in April, 1775, as surely as it did with the airplanes on September 11, 2001.
These American patriots recognized evil for what it was and they responded.
These Patriots also were those seeking nothing more than to live their lives as free people, with neither oppression nor terrorism, and thereby, to fulfill dreams and aspirations of themselves and their families.
But the deaths of their countrymen so fired a nobility of purpose, a swiftness in response and steadfastness in resolve that by day’s end 20,000 of them had chased the regular 12 ½ miles back to Boston, laid siege and by March 1776 caused the British to quit Boston – never to return – a full three months prior to the Declaration of Independence.
The American Revolution started there. It continued and American ideals continue to flourish today – 236 years later. 236 years of events filled with the actions of first responders, responding to tyranny and oppression.
America has become a beacon to an oppressed world and we are reviled and attacked for being so. However, we cannot forget our purpose.
The minutemen’s modern counterpart, our first responders, and those who sacrificed their all on 9/11, continue to inspire us to a nobility of purpose, a swiftness in response and a steadfastness in resolve. Remember 1775.
Remember 9-11. Americans remember your history. Remember who you are.
We are taught well by our history. We need to be renewed to that nobility of purpose – to meet tyranny, terror and evil head-on, whenever and wherever it seeks, in any form, to impose itself on us and our loved ones.
There is nothing so noble as to act righteously, without thought for one’s own safety and security, defending liberty and security of our loved ones and our
countrymen. My friends, remember those who bravely rushed into the World Trade
Center without one thought for themselves, simply doing their jobs – responding
as they were needed to overcome effects of evil. Remember your history.
Remember who you are as Americans.
Each of us, individually, must never hesitate in our
response to the threat of tyranny, terror, and evil. Evil people with evil
desires seek to control the lives of other people. Most of us want merely to be
left alone to live our lives in freedom without fear of those who would do us
harm. But evil in this world is real and we must meet it swiftly and
decisively. No government can protect its citizens at all times – that’s why we
– each of us- individually need to be ready, vigilant, and swift in our
responses. Remember that truism, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
My friends, remember those of Flight 93 who acted courageous, boldly, and
decisively to thwart evil, knowing all the while they would pay the ultimate
price – but they counted the cost and knew the price to be paid was worth their
all. Remember your history. Remember who you are as Americans.
We must, in our resolve to meet evil, remain steadfast and
true. Evil people can be resourceful, patient, deceitful, crafty, and cunning.
Above all, they are destructive and seek to terrorize and destroy us and our
way of life. That is why we must ever remain alert in our resolve to seek out,
identify, and destroy all enemies of our liberty – foreign and domestic.
Jefferson said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility upon
every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Remember his words, so let us be
sworn. Remember the Pentagon and those who died and responded to the crisis
there and remember that evil tried to disrupt and terrorize our nation’s
defenses but failed. America’s righteous might has, over 10 years, crushed the
evil rearing its head on 9/11. Remember your history. Remember your calling as
My friends, on this day, let us remember that America is
indeed exceptional. Almighty God has indeed blessed this nation. I do not
apologize that we do have an exalted place in the world. There has never been,
in the history of human kind, a country such as ours. But, to whom much is
given much is also required. Remember
that our existence is not by accident. By Divine Providence noble people put
noble ideas to pen and then put these ideas into action with steadfast resolve
to take advantage of God-given rights and resources in order to live
peacefully, contentedly, free from having their lives dominated by evil men
with evil purposes. If we remember our history, of which 9/11 is now a
significant part, then those 2,977 who perished as a result of the events
occurring 10 years ago shall not have died in vain. Therefore, perhaps, by the
grace of God, as we continue our times of first response – and there will be
other times – this nation shall endure another 236 years. May it be so.
Remember, let us all do our best to see that evil does not
triumph. If we do, with God’s help, we will remain a free people – and so as
our Constitution says, “that the blessings of liberty may be secured to
ourselves and our posterity.”
May God bless you all and may He continue to bless the
United States of America.