Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Statewide Day of Prayer and Remembrance
September 14, 2001

Last Tuesday, on what began as an ordinary late summer morning, was forever changed by unspeakable acts of evil and hate.

America’s skyline was transformed and the wretched legacy of terror, crashing down like a tidal wave, wounded our sense of peace.

For Americans, for people around the world, that wave carved open a hole of unbearable grief. Today we gather to memorialize the thousands of men and women who began an ordinary Tuesday morning never again to return home. Today we gather to make sense of the senseless, to weigh heavily the mystery of death, and to make lesser the evils of mankind.

So we gather on this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance to comfort each other, and to seek solace from Tuesday’s unspeakable horrors.

Katherine Lee Bates who wrote “America the Beautiful,” Wrote in her fourth verse to remind us that our country’s democratic values will never pass away:

O beautiful, for patriot dreams
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears

America’s cities have beckoned immigrants, artists and innovators from around the world for more than 200 years. Our cities are our nation’s symbols of progress and prosperity. The gleam of New York City and Washington, D.C. remain undimmed. They can never be darkened.

But tears are shed, too many tears. Today and in the days ahead, we will watch mourners brandish photographs of missing loved ones -- loved ones vanished, consumed by darkness. But along with the darkness, we witness the light of service and bravery.

We watch the volunteers, we see the firefighters and the rescue workers coated in soot and laboring among the debris, dedicated to a higher calling.

Americans, we are reminded again and again, are a brave and decent and generous people. 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 we must resolve to apply our principles of justice and fair play.

As Americans, we must determine never to hurt or terrorize other Americans of Arab descent or Islamic faith. Intolerance and stereotyping are the opposite of America’s ideals; they corrupt our civic values and betray all that makes us strong, vital and free. We will work to ensure that this tragedy never be used as a pretext.

Let us not forget that many of the victims who worked at the Trade Center and many of the rescuers were Arab-Americans or of Islamic faith.

We’ve been attacked by outside terrorists but we stand united from within. We cannot and we will not let the terrorists win by giving in to the lesser angels of our nature.

Today we are being tested as a people and as a nation. We will demonstrate that we are unbowed. America’s history has always been one of testing. Each time, we pass that test. Each time, we are emboldened and grow stronger. That is the spirit of America.

Yes, 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 even more determined.

As Americans, we stand united in our pledge that decency and justice and freedom will prevail.

Thank you, and God Bless America.
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