Sep 22 2001
San Francisco, CA"I didn't know Mark Bingham. We met once briefly during my presidential campaign, yet I cannot say that I knew him well. But I wish I had. I wish I had. You meet a lot of people when you run for President. I was fortunate to have had the support of many Americans who were, until then, strangers to me. And I regret to say, that like most candidates I was pre-occupied with winning or losing. I had not thought as much as I should have about what an honor, what an extraordinary honor it was to have so many citizens of the greatest nation on earth place their trust in me, and use our campaign as an expression of their own patriotism. They were the best thing about our campaign, not me. Had I been successful, my greatest challenge would have been to prove myself worthy of the faith of so many good people.
"I love my country, and I take pride in serving her. But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did, or the other heroes on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to prevent our enemies from inflicting an even greater injury on our country. It has been my fate to witness great courage and sacrifice for America's sake, but none greater than the selfless sacrifice of Mark Bingham and those good men who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.
"In the Gospel of John it is written "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Such was the love that Mark and his comrades possessed, as they laid down their lives for others. A love so sublime that only God's love surpasses it.
"It is now believed that the terrorists on Flight 93 intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol where I work, the great house of democracy where I was that day. It is very possible that I would have been in the building, with a great many other people, when that fateful, terrible moment occurred, and a beautiful symbol of our freedom was destroyed along with hundreds if not thousands of lives. I may very well owe my life to Mark and the others who summoned the enormous courage and love necessary to deny those depraved, hateful men their terrible triumph. Such a debt you incur for life.
"I will try very hard, very hard, to discharge my public duties in a manner that honors their memory. All public servants are now solemnly obliged to do all we can to help this great nation remain worthy of the sacrifice of New York City firefighters, police officers, emergency medical people, and worthy of the sacrifice of the brave passengers on Flight 93.
"No American living today will ever forget what happened on September 11, 2001. That day was the moment when the hinge of history swung toward a new era not only in the affairs of this nation, but in the affairs of all humanity. The opening chapter of this new history is tinged with great sadness and uncertainty. But as we begin please take strength from the example of the American we honor today, and those who perished to save others in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The days ahead will be difficult, and we will know more loss and sorrow. But we will prevail. We will prevail.
"Pay no heed to the voices of the poor, misguided souls, in this country and overseas, who claim that America brought these atrocities on herself. They are deluded, and their hearts are cramped by hatred and fear. Our respect for Man's God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness assures us of victory even as it made us a target for the enemies of freedom who mistake hate and depravity for power. The losses we have suffered are grave, and must not be forgotten. But we should all take pride and unyielding resolve from the knowledge that we were attacked because we were good, and good we will remain as we vanquish the evil that preys upon us.
"I never knew Mark Bingham. But I wish I had. I know he was a good son and friend, a good rugby player, a good American, and an extraordinary human being. He supported me, and his support now ranks among the greatest honors of my life. I wish I had known before September 11 just how great an honor his trust in me was. I wish I could have thanked him for it more profusely than time and circumstances allowed. But I know it now. And I thank him with the only means I possess, by being as good an American as he was.
"America will overcome these atrocities. We will prevail over our enemies. We will right this terrible injustice. And when we do, let us claim it as a tribute to our liberty, and to Mark Bingham and all those who died to defend it.
"To all of you who loved Mark, and were loved by him, he will never be so far from you that you cannot feel his love. As our faith informs us, you will see him again, when our loving God reunites us all with the loved ones who preceded us. Take care of each other until then, as he would want you to. May God bless Mark. And may God bless us all.