Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Memorial Tribute at Puyallup Fair Grounds
September 12, 2001
(Begins with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance)
We gather to memorialize the lives of men and women who woke up yesterday morning to embrace the ordinariness of a late summer day. Men and women who will not be headed home, their clothes still pressed and folded, their homes still hinting of a returning dad or mom or son or kid sister.
The pledge of allegiance reminds Americans that we are one nation, under God, indivisible. Cowards have attacked our symbols and our people. But America’s spirit, the promise of our great country, is not broken.
“Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus said, “for they will be comforted.” So we gather together to comfort each other, to seek solace from yesterday’s unspeakable horrors.
“Terror upon terror overwhelms me,” Job said in the Bible, “it sweeps away my resolution like the wind, and my hope of victory vanishes like a cloud.” But Job was restored and his faith strengthened.
Our nation, too, will be restored as we renew our faith today and in the days ahead because Americans are a good and decent and generous people.
One witness to yesterday’s terrorist attacks in New York said he watched as the lines of the World Trade Center dissolved, and that as those lines broke apart, the people on the street reached heavenward, as if to grab it. Arms extended, disbelieving.
Let there be no doubt that we stand united as a people -- united behind our national leaders. United in our commitment to rebuild... To be even stronger united in our pledge that decency and justice shall reign in this country.
During this period of appalling pain for the American people, for the people of the entire world, as we absorb the shock and injustice of these acts -- the Pentagon and the ashes of the World Trade Center now crime scenes -- we resolve to apply our values as Americans as we seek justice. Even as national authorities focus on suspected individuals and organizations, we must not hurt or terrorize Americans of Arab Descent or Islamic faith.
We, as Americans, proudly enshrine and practice justice and not vengeance, liberty and not racism and stereotyping.
For some governments around the world, for those who wish us ill, our values of liberty are an abomination. But it is liberty and justice for all that nourish our country and move us forward as a people.
As a nation, we are wounded... but in the words of Lincoln, we will bind up our nation’s wounds with the strength and resolve of our people and emerge even stronger and more determined.
Like the victims of this horrific act, we woke up yesterday morning to embrace the ordinariness of a late summer day. We live, but we will never forget.