Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Washington State September 11 Memorial and Procession--Keynote Address
September 11, 2002

September 11th was a day of many heroes.

We will never forget the heroism of the victims and survivors, and their families and friends, some of whom are here today.

We will never forget the heroism of rescue workers, firefighters, police officers and everyday people.

We will never forget the heroism of those passengers on Flight 93, and the two simple words: “Let’s roll.”

These images and memories live on and touch and inspire us everyday.

Our own sense of duty and heroism was revitalized that day. Inside each of us, something changed.

For some, this change meant volunteering, or giving blood. For others, it meant raising the flag for the first time. It meant caring a little more about the people around us. Not just our friends and our family, but our community. We became better Americans. Better human beings.

We also found strength and hope in the rejection of intolerance. When a few tried to lash out in anger and hatred against innocent Arab-Americans, Muslims and Sikhs, we said “No. Not in America.” We refused to condone stereotyping, ignorance and violence. We refused to repeat the sins of a past wartime. I am so very proud of how our communities guarded against racial and religious bigotry. We stood up for our friends and neighbors.

A spark of humble heroism was ignited in us.

Some have turned that spark into a flame of civic altruism. Like the 39 everyday heroes who join us today, one from each county in this state. These “everyday heroes” are making a difference. Their presence here today is a reminder that we can each make a difference.

Forty years ago, a young president stood before our nation and issued a challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

What can we do for our country? How can we best honor those we lost? The most lasting tribute we can offer goes beyond expressions and gestures and the sharing of emotions—it lies in what we do.

With our nation on heightened alert, people are apprehensive about security and their safety. Let’s channel that apprehension into positive action.

Instead of just talking about a stronger America, let each of us help make it happen.

Let’s all pledge that when we leave here today, we will each do one tangible, real thing to improve our community, our state, our nation. Sign up as a volunteer in our schools. Contribute even more than ever to a charity. Drop off some groceries at a food bank. Give blood. Clean up a park. Help a neighbor. Help a stranger. Today.

Let’s start by doing something today. And make September 11, 2002 a proud turning point. The best way to remember and honor the victims of September 11, 2001 is by building a better America, one community at a time. We must each ask what we can do for our communities. And do it! We must all strive to be everyday heroes, because America at its best and strongest is a nation of everyday heroes. We can build such a nation together.

I believe in America. I believe our future is bright because the strength of our nation is reflected in our gathering today, in our diversity and our humanity and our irrepressible spirit.

God Bless you all, and God Bless America.

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