(NOTE: THE ADMINISTRATOR OFTEN DEVIATES FROM PREPARED REMARKS)
Good evening and thank you for your support of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. I appreciate the opportunity to share this evening with Craig Floyd and Molly Winters. I am honored to be in the presence of people who work in law enforcement, their spouses, and their many friends.
The words of Attorney General Ashcroft were inspiring and heartfelt. I have been with him on numerous occasions since September 11; and let me assure you that his is singularly focused on using all the resources and will power of the Justice Department to not only bring the terrorists to justice, but to do everything conceivable to prevent further attacks on the United States.
Last month America witnessed a form of violence unlike any we have known. There has never been a day like it in American history and there has never been a day like it in the annals of law enforcement.
The Attorney General compared the 1917 bombing incident in Milwaukee that took the lives of nine policemen with the recent attack. Theres a thread that links the two incidents: both were the work of terrorists--one a group of American anarchists; the other, was the design of foreign enemies.
Terrorism is nothing new to America. But the scale of it is. More people lost their lives in tow hours on September 11 than in all the previous terrorist incidents in the last 200 years.
Those who designed this attack may have succeeded in penetrating the boundaries of America but they have grossly underestimated the grit and determination of our people.
The last two days have been extraordinary for me. I was in New York with the Deputy Chief of the NYPD. Together we went to ground zero and three sights will be forever with me. I saw the destruction reflected in the cranes and twisted steel; I saw the sacrifice of our law enforcement heroes as I stood before the flowers, signs, and pictures comprising the temporary memorial; and I then witnessed the determination, spirit, and hope of this nation in the American flag flying proudly after being planted over the rubble.
President Bush has spoken for us all when he said, We will bring the terrorists to justice or we will bring justice to the terrorists. The first part of that responsibility falls to a large extent with law enforcement. In the coming years, as we fight terrorism, there will be greater responsibility invested in law enforcement and, yes, there will be more sacrifice required of us.
And as we face these challenges we can be assured of the support of the American people. Confidence, support, and gratitude to law enforcement have never been higher.
I mentioned the last two days. I also had the opportunity to go to a DEA-sponsored elementary school in inner-city Detroit. A school in which kids are walking to school through drug-infested neighborhoods that the community is working hard to clean up. These children understand from lifes experiences the importance and sacrifice of law enforcement. The 5th graders of Hubert Elementary School read letters to me about their feelings toward law enforcement. One student said this:
Does this not motivate us to do more for our youth--the future of this country?
Well, there is much require of us to maintain our freedom; and the sacrifice required to sustain the rule of law is constant and unrelenting. The commitment necessary to preserve it should never be taken for granted.
I was a member of Congress when a lone gunman entered the Capitol and shot Officer Jacob Chestnut in the back of the head.
Most people in the building did the sensible thing and headed for the exits. But Detective John Gibson did the heroic thing and stood his ground. He fired at the assassin, saved the lives of countless others, and in the process, lost his own life. To most of us, that was an act of great heroism. But to Detective Gibson and other law enforcement officers, it was duty.
Thank you for your support of the work and recognition of the sacrifice of law enforcement. Despite the terror of last month, all of us have learned a great deal about America. Our buildings and monuments may be vulnerable; but there is no vulnerability in the American spirit. There is no trepidation in the American determination, and there will be no limit to our commitment to keep America secure and free.