Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
“Washington’s Heroes” Recognition Event
September 11, 2003

Good afternoon.

I am profoundly honored to be here.

September 11, 2001 occupies hallowed ground in the landscape of our memories.

Two years later, it remains a painfully poignant day.

The very words “September 11th” stir a silent, solemn sorrow, deep within our souls.

They always will.

We still mourn.

We still pray for the lost, and for the families they left behind.

We still seek solace and meaning.

We still honor the dead, the survivors, and the many, many heroes of two years ago.

But from the endless embers of that dark day, a torch was ignited.

A torch whose fierce flame illuminates a determined America.

A torch of freedom, justice, and courage.

A torch of humanity.

We are here today to honor those who now carry this torch, and with it the hopes and convictions of our nation.

Today we recognize you—the brave men and women of the United States military.

We recognize all of you who are from our state or stationed here.

You who devote yourselves to selfless service, here at home and around the world.

We give thanks to all of you here today, and to the rest of our troops, for defending our security, our freedoms, and our way of life.

We salute your strength of character and dedication to duty.

You are our first line of attack in the global fight against terrorism.

You exemplify the proud traditions and noble heritage of American military service.

And you’re adding a new chapter to the saga of patriotism, one that future generations of Americans will read with pride and gratitude.

The men and women in our military are a valuable part of our state’s security.

Our state and local governments are striving to live up to your example in our Homeland Security efforts.

We’re working at an accelerated pace.

Training continues, first responders have been equipped, and planning is intense at all levels.

We are prepared.

You are doing your part, and we promise to do ours.

You are a very valuable part of our communities.

Nearly 180,000 military personnel and Department of Defense civilians and their families live in Washington.

We appreciate each and every one of you.

Our communities benefit from your unique perspectives, diverse backgrounds and volunteerism.

Our economy benefits as well.

But the greatest benefit in these uncertain times lies in the inspiration and hope that you give to us.

We are humbled by your sacrifices, and the sacrifices of your families.

The calm and uncomplaining way with which you bear the hardships of war and the rigors of service inspires us—inspires us to do all that we can to support you and support our country.

Your example teaches us that we must do our part, too.

You are carrying the torch and lighting the way for your fellow Americans.

Please know that even those who have concerns about the military effort in Iraq, whether it should have been a more international effort to the cost of the rebuilding to the length of the deployment of troops, they all support our men and women in uniform and pray for your safety.

On behalf of the people of Washington state, thank you for all that you do.

Be proud—because we sure are proud of you!

God Bless you, and God Bless America.

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