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Remarks at Memorial Service for the Victims of the Mumbai Attacks

Evan Feigenbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
Remarks at American University
Washington, DC
December 4, 2008

Today, we remember and pay tribute not just to victims of terrorism, but to the victims of terrorism in two of the most open and pluralistic societies in the world.

The United States and India share diversity, traditions of family, of community — strongly embedded democratic traditions that are the lifeblood of any open society.

And now we also share in one another's grief. And in sharing that grief, we share, too, in the heart-wrenching pain that only free societies can know when their very foundations come under attack.

South Mumbai is, as many of you know, a very unique place. In just two square miles you have a Hindu temple, a mosque, a Jain temple, a Sikh temple, a Buddhist temple, a Catholic cathedral, a Protestant church, a Parsi Fire Temple, and a Jewish synagogue. All open, vibrant, full of people during worship times. What other cities can make such a claim? So much about Mumbai represents the essence of diversity and tolerance.

And so on behalf of all of my colleagues in the Department of State and the U.S. Government, I'm here today with, as Secretary Rice said yesterday in New Delhi, "condolences for those who have lost their lives, those who have been maimed, for their families, for the people of Mumbai, for the ordeal through which they’ve just been, and for the people of India."

John Donne wrote that: "Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." And in the deeply interconnected universe that our world has become, we Americans are especially diminished by these events.

Some of us know people caught up in this tragedy. Some of us lost friends, colleagues, and loved ones. All of us, no doubt, watched the events—horrified—on television. And perhaps we felt a special sense of empathy and loss because of the tragedy we ourselves suffered on September 11, 2001.

Watching the events in Mumbai, I wonder how many of us felt the same sense of vulnerability Mumbaikers now feel, the same nagging questions, the same sense of loss.

And so Americans stand in solidarity with India. And we will continue to do so as India meets the tests of this terrible time.

America lost citizens as well. And so this is a time when Mumbaikers, Indians, all who care about India, can, and should, feel the sense of solidarity and support that exists in the international community among India’s many, many friends.

We are, as the Secretary said, determined to act with urgency, to act with resolve. We mourn the loss of our own citizens, of so many Indians, of those from other countries. And we resolve to continue the struggle against those who offer nothing but violence, despair, and hopelessness.


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