ARCHIVED - A Memorial to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

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Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador
September 11, 2011

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Thank you to everyone who has come here today to share in this memorial ceremony. A very warm welcome to my provincial colleagues, and guests from around the world. My colleague, the Honourable Peter Penashue, and I would like to thank the organizers.

It's an honour to be here in Gander whose citizens ten years ago opened their hearts – and in many cases their doors – to more than 6500 travellers who were shocked, frightened, confused and had no place to sleep.

The many acts of generosity demonstrated by the people of Gander on September 11, 2001 and afterwards will never be forgotten – nor will the assistance provided by the hospital, the town itself, the provincial government, the private sector, social services, voluntary agencies as well as Gander International Airport and the RCMP.

All of these organizations and many more groups and private citizens in neighbouring towns such as Appleton, Glenwood, Norris Arm, Lewisporte and Gambo clearly showed the world that unity and compassion can and will triumph even in the most difficult times.

The same can be said of communities, organizations, and individuals right across the Maritimes and indeed across Canada – many of whom welcomed passengers from a total of 238 flights that day and similarly demonstrated countless acts of great kindness and generosity.

In many cases, people prepared food. They set up shelters in schools and churches. Local businesses donated all the basic necessities. People even gave boat and hiking tours to distract the stranded travellers. And many residents welcomed strangers into their homes and made them feel like family.

These simple and significant actions exemplify the messages at the heart of a National Day of Service which on Friday our government announced will be marked each year on September eleventh.

The National Day of Service will be a day to honour generous acts of humanity, service and courage and to honour the sacrifices made by victims of terrorism and their families.

Following the inspiring example set 10 years ago by the citizens of Gander and the surrounding communities, it will be about people helping people, and neighbours getting together as a community.

By participating in selfless acts of community service every year on September 11th, Canadians from coast to coast to coast will be able to pay tribute to the Canadians and others who were lost in 9/11 and to honour those who stood fast in the crisis.

They will honour courage and sacrifice. And they will come together to prove that our community spirit of generosity and resilience in the face of terror is strong.

This afternoon I join with all of you here as we gather on this solemn occasion to remember and to honour the nearly 3,000 innocent victims – including 24 Canadians - who lost their lives in a senseless act of terrorism ten years ago.

The images of carnage and destruction from that day will forever be seared into the collective consciousness of all Canadians, of all Americans, and indeed of all people from around the world.

Today, we also recall with heavy hearts the other senseless acts of terrorism that have killed thousands of men, women, and children throughout the world – as recently seen in Oslo, as well as in the United States, Morocco, London, Pakistan, Bali, Madrid, Mumbai, Kampala and in countless other places.

We won't forget the wounds that have been inflicted by terrorism and our sympathies are with victims and their families around the world.

On this day, people from many different countries have and will come together in ceremonies such as this one to remember those who have lost their lives to acts of terrorism and to share in the grief of their families, friends and loved ones.

Terrorism is a global phenomenon – not something that just impacts a handful of Western democracies. Terrorists kill people from all walks of life, including those whose interests they claim to represent. They do so indiscriminately all over the world.

The 9/11 attacks in 2001 killed people from more than 90 countries and various faiths, including Muslims.

We remain committed to honouring their lives as we remain committed to moving forward together to fight terrorism in every corner of the globe.

Time cannot bring back the innocent victims of September eleventh or other terrorist acts.  Nor in many cases can it heal the wounds left behind by the loss of loved ones.

But time can - and indeed it has - taught us many things about how we can move forward together to help prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again.

Significant work has been done over the last decade – within Canada and through strong international collaboration – to keep our citizens safe. Canada has been an active contributor to global counter terrorism efforts, and of course we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends.

With them and with our other allies we have united around a common cause of combating violent extremism everywhere and we have worked hard to secure our borders against terrorist threats.

We have also seen citizens and civil society organizations – representing people of all faiths and beliefs – work amongst themselves and work together to prevent terrorism by building stronger and more resilient communities.

All this represents a lasting memorial and tribute to the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks as well as to the victims of other terrorist attacks around the world.

Today, the world in many ways is safer and more secure than it was ten years ago thanks to the work of governments as well as private citizens and civil organizations.

This does not mean that threats no longer exist.

We still need to remain vigilant.

But it does mean that today we are better prepared to act decisively and in unison to protect our joint safety and security.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have not achieved their objective of making us more afraid. They have not achieved their objective of ripping our society apart. They have not achieved their objective of undermining our way of life and our beliefs in the principles which bind us together.

Our society remains resilient – that is, it remains able to resist terrorist ideologies and bounce back from terrorist acts – because of our belief in a core set of foundational values such as the rule of law; freedom, democracy and human rights; and that all people are equal.

That is another lasting legacy of the attacks of 9/11.

They and other terrorist attacks have not shaken our belief in such principles.

Instead, they have strengthened our resolve to defend the principles which all of us cherish; and they have helped to solidify our hope that such principles will continue to grow and flourish both here and in all parts of the world.

Thank you.

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