‘These are 9/11’s fallen heroes: first responders, civilians, passengers and crew, and so many others. They did not ask to be heroes. They did not wake that day with dreams of glory. But, when history intervened, they acted. And unlike the hijackers, who plotted to take lives, these heroes sacrificed to save them.’
Washington, D.C. –Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate held a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony yesterday honoring the Fallen Heroes of 9/11. Following are Sen. McConnell’s remarks delivered during the ceremony, which took place in Emancipation Hall, in the U.S. Capitol:
“None of us will forget where we were that morning, or the horrible things we saw.
“The explosions that melted steel and shattered symbols of our prosperity and our might.
“Tools of commerce and transport used for brutal and homicidal ends.
“The people. The loss. The despair.
“These things, we have never been able to forget.
“And yet, that’s not all we saw on that saddest of September mornings.
“Amid the horror and the tragedy, there was something else. Something more powerful.
“In the heart of a great city, strangers rushed to help strangers, sprinting towards smoke and chaos, ignoring the danger to themselves. We heard stories of heroes returning once more to the swirling tempest of paper and glass, searching for others to help.
“At the edge of a nation's capital, colleagues became comrades, reaching out to one another amid the flames and confusion.
“And high above the clouds, stories of bravery and revolt – courage that did more than just save buildings like this one, or the ideals it represents, but countless lives.
“These are 9/11’s fallen heroes: first responders, civilians, passengers and crew, and so many others.
“They did not ask to be heroes. They did not wake that day with dreams of glory. But, when history intervened, they acted. And unlike the hijackers, who plotted to take lives, these heroes sacrificed to save them.
“The thousands of men and women who perished on September 11 did not die in vain.
“Their memory served, and still serves, as a unifying force for our nation.
“Whether by the inspiration of their bravery or the brutal way their lives were taken, their memory stirred Americans to even more acts of selflessness, from joining rescue efforts to raising their hands in defense of our freedoms.
“In Manhattan, and Shanksville, and at the Pentagon, we’ve erected memorials to honor them.
“And today, with these three medals, we commemorate every man and every woman who perished that day with the highest civilian award that Congress can bestow.
“To the families gathered here, I know the wounds can never truly be healed. But never forget that your country stands with you. And that we will never stop honoring the memory of the heroes we remember today.