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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2006 Secretary Rice's Remarks > September 2006: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Remarks at 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony With Citizens of Halifax

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax NS, Canada
September 11, 2006

Secretary Rice talks about the close ties between Canada and the United States at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at a Halifax Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. State Department photoSECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Peter, Foreign Minister MacKay, for your friendship and for your leadership. Thank you for this opportunity to join you here in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Minister, Your Honor, Premier, Your Worship. I'd like to thank especially the Lieutenant Governor with whom I've just met. I understand she's been on the job a full four or five days. Congratulations. Local leaders, distinguished citizens. I'd like to thank Lucas for that fine rendition of the Mendelssohn. It's beautiful, Lucas. Thank you for honoring me with that.

Even among the best allies, Canada and the United States enjoy a unique bond, a bond founded on a shared border, strengthened by shared interests, elevated by shared principles and enshrined in the millions of friendships and memories that are shared between our people.

The character of our alliance is evident in times of peace and good fortune. But in those darker times, when tragedy summons us to support one another, to comfort one another and to heal one another, that is when we see the true strength of the bond of friendship that we enjoy.

There have been times when you needed us, like in December of 1917 when the horrific explosion devastated Halifax and claimed thousands of lives. I've just seen the exhibit of that disaster here in this wonderful museum and it's incredibly moving because you see the artifacts; and though the artifacts cannot speak themselves, they speak volumes about the lives lost, the memories, the history and the futures snuffed out all too early.

I imagine that it was a similar sense of compassion that moved Americans from Massachusetts to fill a train with food and medicine and relief aid and set out for Nova Scotia in the middle of winter.

And there have been times in the past when my nation has needed you. You've never let us down. You came to our aid last summer when Hurricane Katrina devastated America's Gulf Coast. You helped to feed our hungry, to care for our wounded, to save the lives of many, many Americans.

And of course five years ago, five years ago today, you came to our aid when a calm fall morning was shattered by terror and by evil. It is to the honor of the victims of that day and also to celebrate your merciful role in those events that I've come here to Halifax this afternoon.

The attacks of September 11th were the worst assault on the American homeland in our entire history. And they were more than that. They were an attack on the very ideals of peace and justice, of liberty and equality, of openness and caring, that civilized nations like ours strive so mightily to uphold and to protect.

Among the innocent victims of September 11th there were hundreds of citizens from over 90 nations. Canada lost many of its own sons and daughters that day, and two of whom were beloved by individuals are joining us here today.

It is often the darkest of times though that summons the better angels of our nature. It is often in those times that we see the good side of the human spirit. And this was certainly true on September 11th, especially among the people of Canada. On that morning, hundreds of planes bound for the United States were ordered to land immediately in the nearest county -- the nearest country. For more than 33,000 people aboard 224 flights, that country was Canada.

When these travelers arrived here in Halifax, or in Gander, or Moncton or Vancouver, most were weary and confused and scared. In fact many, shut off from the news, didn't know where they were or why there were there. And then they learned of the attacks.

All across this country, you and your fellow Canadians greeted your guests with warm hands and comforting words and clean clothes. You opened your churches, your community centers, your own homes, to offer a bed or a blanket, a warm place to stay no matter how long. You took to your kitchens to prepare meals for thousands of hungry people and you gave everyone a chance to call their loved ones and tell them not to worry, to tell their loved ones, "I'm safe, I'm well. I'm in Canada."

Here in Halifax that morning, local radio stations begged people to call the Red Cross and volunteer their homes. Within hours, those same stations were begging people not to call anymore. The outpouring of support was just so overwhelming. One Haligonian called and left a message anyway, saying simply, "I only have one bed, but I can sleep on the sofa."

Five years ago, thousands of Canadians, including many of you here today whose stories we've heard, lifted up my countrymen and lifted up my country with countless acts of unmatched compassion. So today, on the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I bring this message to the men and women of Halifax and to every citizen of this great nation:

On behalf of President Bush and on behalf of the American people, thank you. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your compassion, for your skill, for your professionalism, for your caring. And thank you for your friendship.

It is because of you that we remember September 11 not just as a time of evil and terror, but also as a time when hope triumphed over hatred, a time when our faith in human goodness was restored and reaffirmed, and a time to once again sing your praises, our friend, our neighbor, Canada -- true north, strong and free.

Thank you. (Applause.)


Released on September 11, 2006

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