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USS Cole MemorialAired October 18, 2000 - 10:59 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our coverage of the memorial for the USS Cole, the survivors and the victims from last week's deadly attack. We have been watching now crowds gather, Janet Reno just a short time ago is there, Senator Kennedy and other distinguished members of U.S. Congress have gathered in Norfolk, Virginia, the home base for the USS Cole. Awaiting President Clinton, his wife and daughter to enter the picture shortly.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Seventeen sailors lost their lives. It was almost a week ago when the attack took place in the Port of Yemen in Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors died when the explosion took place on board the USS Cole; 39 sailors were wounded, eight are still hospitalized. Seven of those hospitalized sailors still insisted on coming to today's ceremony.
We saw some pictures earlier. We will see them throughout the ceremony, all that it took to get them to come there today. It was not an easy task to get them there.
HEMMER: And an interesting juxtaposition as we look at the ceremony today from Norfolk. Half a world away, the search continues not only for suspects in the cause of that blast, but also five or six other bodies still remain missing, either inside the USS Cole or in the bottom of the port in Aden. Six were recovered yesterday, on Tuesday. Five others were recovered earlier, immediately after that blast.
But you mentioned the injured. Of 39 injured, all but about two have made their way back to the U.S. Two still remain in a hospital in Germany where they're being attended to and treated to for their wounds inflicted last week.
KAGAN: And we should also mention that a big contingent not there today, but still very much remembered. The majority of the sailors who were aboard the USS Cole are still with the ship. Still a lot of work to do to there to keep it afloat, to get it ready to be transported back to the U.S. to be fixed. Still a lot of investigating to do to figure out who did this to the ship and to the sailors.
HEMMER: While those questions remain open-ended at this point, let's go back to Norfolk now and CNN's Mark Potter, who is on the scene, as it appears family members also continue to trickle in as well. Mark, hello again.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. There is a sea of people behind me and in front of me, everybody on their feet respectfully awaiting the dignitaries to come in and standing out of respect for the family members as they filter in.
This is a very respectful, a very quiet crowd. This is going to be a very moving ceremony not only because of the events that have occurred and because of the respect people feel for the victims and the injured who are here, but also because of the program that has been set up. There will be a lot of scripture reading, there will be a lot of music, short presentations by a number of officials, including President Clinton, and it will all end with "Taps." And you can bet that this is going to, at all times, be a very emotional event.
The emotions have already started flowing with the arrival of the injured sailors and with the arrival of the family members. There are a lot of wet eyes in the house already, and that's going to continue.
HEMMER: All right, Mark.
KAGAN: And those are pictures that we saw earlier of some of the injured sailors arriving. Some that could walk got off on their own accord. Others were wheeled in on a stretcher.
HEMMER: We have an indication of how long this ceremony may go, but, again, in years past when we have seen similar ceremonies that have really pulled at the heart strings of a number of people, these ceremonies can get the best of folks. And we anticipate this ceremony to be no different. If you remember the Khobar Towers from the disaster in Saudi Arabia from a few years back, indeed that ceremony itself was quite moving. We anticipate again a similar feel of emotion today as the injured continue to come in there.
KAGAN: And while we watch the ceremony, the services from Norfolk, Virginia, we want to introduce Alec Fraser, who works here with us. Turns out he works here at Turner Properties, but in another life worked, was a captain on board a ship very much like the USS Cole.
Fortunately for you, from your long Navy career, you never had to go to something like this, and yet you're able to give us a perspective on what we should be able to see today.
CAPT. ALEC FRASER (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Well, I'm afraid I did have to go to many of these. But this ceremony is important to every sailor around the globe, the over 101 ships or so that are deployed today around the globe, because it's answering the question, does America care? And so to the families of the -- those that were killed on the Cole and to the rest of those that are deployed around the globe, they are seeing the support of the commander-in-chief, the rest of America, and so they know that America cares. So the ceremony is very important and an emotional reinforcement for those that have to go back out on the front line tomorrow. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the guests please rise for the arrival of the president and remain standing for the national anthem.
KAGAN: Sounds like they're announcing the arrival of President Clinton, and they're going to be playing the national anthem any moment. How about as soon as we hear the anthem, we will be quiet and listen in.
Meanwhile, Alec, I just want to ask you another question about that. You make the point, then, that this is not just for the family members and for the members of the USS Cole. What does it feel like when you're half a world away and protecting a country that you might feel doesn't even remember that you're out there?
FRASER: Well, the Cole crew and the captain of the Cole are working hard to keep the ship afloat right now, but I know that the captain of that ship is thinking, you know, are my family and friends being taken care of for both myself and the crew back in the United States? Knowing that America is showing its support, that it is taking care of the families allows them to do their job better in the port of Aden.
HEMMER: One interesting point here to be made, as CNN's Kate Snow out of Washington confirming with CNN, that the FBI director, Louis Freeh, currently en route to Yemen. His schedule is kept rather tight-lipped, but knowing the reports we're getting out of Yemen about the advances in this investigation, what does it mean to the morale of the U.S. military to be able to move forward and try and solve a case?
FRASER: The military is focused on its mission, and so they are continuing forward to do what they were assigned to do before this ever started, knowing that the -- every effort is being taken to find who is responsible and that something is being done, and that they can continue their assigned mission. So there are other ships that are going back on station, that they're doing their assigned job someplace. It's important for them to know that, somewhere else in the situation, that those problems are being taken care of.
HEMMER: I ask the question just because, in so many cases of tragedy, people talk about the healing process. Certainly this is part of it in Norfolk, but I would also imagine that the investigation itself is the other half of this equation.
FRASER: It is. And there's this idea that we take care of our sailors. It's like when a downed airman goes down, we'll send in hundreds of marines or soldiers to find that downed airman. People know that we take care of our sailors and our military people. It's important to keep that knowledge alive.
KAGAN: Because we've been in peacetime for so long, with the exception of the Gulf War -- but for the majority of the young people today, they've grown up not knowing war -- part of the tragedy of watching this today is I think when people send their sons and daughters off to the military, sounds ironic, but one of the last things you think about is they're going and putting their lives on the line for the country. It's like they're going off to have a great experience and see the world.
FRASER: I wish every American could go on board a ship and see the sailors. They're doing a wonderful job. We ought to be proud of those sailors, as we will see lining the rails today.
KAGAN: And with that, we see the arrival of President Clinton. He met earlier with the family members, both of the injured sailors and also the family members of those that gave their lives. The national anthem is about to begin. We will be quiet and watch the ceremony alongside you and listen in.
(CHOIR SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the guests please be seated.
Ship's company, parade rest.
Rear Adm. Barry Black, chief of chaplains, will now deliver the invocation.
REAR ADM. B.C. BLACK, CHIEF OF CHAPLAINS: Greetings from the God of Earth and sea and sky. Today, we are reminded that freedom is not free and that the price we must sometimes pay is exceedingly high. Today, we come with complex questions, but we also are willing to permit God's light to illuminate our darkness.
One such light shines from the 23rd Psalm, verse 4. It is a psalm written for people like so many of you who must face the worst that life can bring.
The Hebrew poet wrote, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me."
This psalmist knew that God can give calm as we go through life's tragedies.
We do not run with haste through the valley, but we walk through the sadness, knowing that death is only a shadow. God can bring us through the valley to a better country. He carves tunnels of hope from mountains of despair. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Let us pray.
God of life, there are days when the burdens we carry are heavy on our shoulders and weigh us down. When the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them and our hearts are lonely; and our souls have lost courage flood our path with light, turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise, tune our hearts to brave music.
Give us a sense of comradeship in response to this act of inhumanity. Bring healing to the injuries of body and spirit. Help us to praise you for the lives of those who gave their last full measure of devotion for freedom. That we may be able to encourage all who journey on the road of life to your honor and glory. Amen.
ANNOUNCER: Admiral Robert J. Natter, commander in chief, U.S. Atlantic fleet.
ADMIRAL ROBERT NATTER, COMMANDER, U.S. ATLANTIC FLEET: Mr. President; distinguished members of Congress; secretary Cohen; Attorney General Reno; Secretary Perry and Mrs. Perry, who is sponsor for USS Cole; Secretary Danzig; General Shelton; General Jones; Admiral Clark; General Franks; General Kernan; distinguished flag general and allied officers; neighbors of the Hampton Roads community; sailors and marines of the Atlantic fleet; ladies and gentlemen, and especially families and sailors of USS Cole: good morning.
I know many of you have traveled long distances and have had to endure some tearful and anxious days. Thank you for being here. And thank you, Mr. President, for rushing back from your critically important duties in the Middle East to be with our sailors and our Cole families. I know your presence here today has been and is comforting to all of them.
Earlier this week, many of us in Norfolk and Hampton Roads participated in the dedication of a Navy homecoming statue. This statue, a sailor and his family, represents the joy of a sailor's reunion with his family after completing a ship's long deployment. That statue in downtown Norfolk symbolizes so very well the sacrifices of our sailors and families in their service to country. And today's ceremony reminds us that a joyful homecoming by our men and women who go down in the sea and ships can never be taken for granted.
Daily, they face the dangers of life at sea, and willingly so. For they recognize that there is no higher calling than that of service to our country. Today, we gather and pause as a nation, as a Navy, and as a family to remember and honor our shipmates in Cole. We remember and honor their courage, and we remember and honor their service. But most of all, we remember and honor their answering of that highest call. And we remember and honor their ultimate sacrifice.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen; when it comes time for our response, remember the Cole.
ANNOUNCER: Master Chief Thomas B. Hefty, U.S. Atlantic fleet master chief, will now read a passage from the Old Testament.
MASTER CHIEF THOMAS B. HEFTY, US ATLANTIC FLEET: A reading from the Old Testament:
"The spirit of the Lord, God, is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and opening of the prison to those who are bound. To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God.
"To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion -- to give them the garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning; the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit that they may be called oaks of righteousness. The planning of the Lord, that he may be glorified."
ANNOUNCER: Admiral Vern Clark, chief of naval operations.
ADMIRAL VERN CLARK, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: This is one of those times when shock and anger, then respect, great appreciation, then emptiness, and then sadness.
All of these emotions, these feelings are felt in such a profound way that we find ourselves reaching for the right words to comfort the wounded heart, to ease the pain and grief of families, friends, shipmates. Shipmates: young men and women so suddenly torn from this world.
Well, words fail us, but our feelings are pure. We feel the hurt. We feel the tears. We feel the loss and the pain; 224 years ago, Thomas Payne talked about freedom. Remember these words?
"What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly. It is dearness, only, that gives everything its value." And then he goes onto say, "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods. And it would be strange, indeed, if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."
Dearness gives everything its value. And the dearness of the 17 men and women that we moralize today causes us to remember that freedom and the values that we find most important sometimes come at a very high price.
In our Navy, our common mission of service to country binds us closely to one another. There are several hundred thousand sailors and families in our Navy. But there's only one Navy crew, and one Navy family.
This tragic loss has saddened us and it has hurt each and every one of us. The sailors that we remember today made the ultimate sacrifice for service to the United States of America and they remind us all what it really means to go in harm's way.
Our profession is demanding, some days it's really exciting. It's rewarding. But it is also dangerous.
We practice our trade on seas that can be calm and serene, but knows neither pity nor remorse. We represent our nation on those seas that are both friendly and sometimes hostile. We live with hazard and risk every day, on every mission.
When people ask me how are our sailors really doing? I often say, you know the way to find out? Call their mom. Call their dad. See what they're telling them. You will find out how they really are.
I'm taken by one e-mail that came from one of our fallen sailors and it said, "Mom, we're in dangerous waters, but I'm OK." There was some trepidation in those words, but there was also a lot of faith. And many of us know that feeling going into a combat zone for the very first time.
But the key point is the men and the women of the United States ship Cole, they understood that they were heading into harm's way. They also knew that what they were doing was very important; that what they were doing really mattered.
I've said it everywhere, the USS Cole has a great crew. Their captain regularly challenged them to live lives of consequence and to make a difference. The wonderful stories that we are reading about them now, these men and women, tell us that is exactly what they wanted: to make a difference.
They gave themselves for our country, but let us remember this, they also lived for our country. And they were giving their lives every day, from boot camp, through extensive training and preparations for this deployment, all the way up to that moment six days ago.
And their service gives special meaning and honor to their lives, these young men and women. The heroes of Cole achieved what they were reaching for. They made a difference on their ship, with their shipmates, and in our Navy. And forever, in our history, may they rest in peace.
ANNOUNCER: The honorable Richard Danzig, secretary of the Navy.
RICHARD DANZIG, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY: One of the reasons that I love America is because it loves its citizens. In other times, and on this very day in other places, people are regarded as means and not ends, as fodder, stepping-stones, dispensable assets. Because we are not like that, we grieve today.
We see in the 17 people who died on October 12th, 17 wonders; 17 sons and daughters. We mourn brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, and those who will never be mothers and fathers; 17 unique people. We cherish them.
We grieve because we couldn't protect them. Instead, they died protecting us.
That we live in America is, in itself, an act of grace. We came to it naturally. We were born into it, or we were welcomed as immigrants. We were naturalized.
By either route, America has been for every one of us a gift, and what a stupendous gift, a country that was built collectively, but cherishes us individually. A country built of the effort of servicemen and statesmen, farmers and factory workers, those who toiled on the railroad, and those who bankrolled it.
Our philosophers, our politicians, our priests, all together created something bigger than any of us, and then, they gave it to us. Any true gift is infused with opportunity and responsibility that arises from that opportunity. An inherent talent, a good education, money in the bank, they all cry to the recipient: What will you make of this? What will you do individually? What will we do collectively in light of how many have done so much for us?
These 17 answered that question. They didn't opt just for themselves, they didn't stay home. They didn't turn away from their country. They put themselves out there. They joined a family, the United States Navy, and the USS Cole, a ship, the very essence of a group enterprise.
And think not just of these 17, think of the 39 who were injured, and then think of the 240 beyond them, the 240 who absorbed the shock of the explosion, who saw the death of 17, the injury of two score, but who turned to and fought on; fought together for their ship and for their shipmates.
For two days and two nights, they fought under the most extreme conditions: blood, bent and broken steel, flooding, uncertainty, and danger. They saved their ship, their injured, every one of them, and each other.
And then their generators failed. The waters rose, and they had to do it all over again waste deep in water, manning bucket brigades by hand, they did it again.
Amidst all of that, their captain said to me: "Mr. Secretary, we will save this ship. We will repair this ship. We will take this ship home. And we will sail this ship again to sea."
In every gift, there is a responsibility. The Cole has given us a gift, the 17 joined more than 1.3 million servicemen and women who have given us their lives. Thirty-nine from the Cole were injured, 240 fought on. Altogether, they added a building block to America.
Will we, as recipients of this gift, live up to them? I think we will. We're Americans. Thank you, Cole.
ANNOUNCER: General Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
GEN. HUGH SHELTON, JOINT CHIEF CHAIRMAN: Mr. President, distinguished members of Congress, Secretary Cohen, Secretary Danzig, families, friends, and other distinguished guests, fellow members of our armed forces.
Last week, we lost a part of America, a part of ourselves, and a part of our family. But while the USS Cole belonged to the Cole and Navy families, they are also part of a much larger family. They are now and forever more a part of the family of patriots that has made our nation the greatest country on Earth.
They are now with those patriots who gave of themselves for freedom, who gave of themselves for our way of life, and who freely answered our nation's call to duty. For our tomorrow, they gave their today.
For all of us who have worn or who wear the uniform of our nation's fighting forces join you in feeling this loss. We will never forget those brave men and women who sailed into harm's way, and who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom.
And those who perpetrated this act of terror, should also never forget that America's memory is long and our reach longer.
Today, we also remember that there are thousands of men and women at sea, just as there are soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman on patrol and on watch protecting America's interests. Americans who put service above self and patriotism above profit.
At Arlington National Cemetery, there is a particular, appropriate inscription. It reads: "Not for fame or reward, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it, these men suffered all, sacrificed all, and died."
The men and women of the USS Cole, whom we honor today, truly understood this call to duty, this call to service, and to America. May God Bless them and keep them, and may God be with their families.
ANNOUNCER: Admiral Robert J. Natter, commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, will now read a passage from the New Testament.
ADMIRAL R.J. NATTER, CMDR., U.S. ATLANTIC FLEET: "See what love the father has given us, that we should be called the children of God, and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now. It does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him. For we shall see him as he is."
ANNOUNCER: The Honorable William Cohen, secretary of Defense.
WILLIAM COHEN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: President Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, Chelsea; Chairman Shelton and Caroline; Janet, and our Navy leadership; and most importantly, the families and the friends of the brave sailors that we honor today.
It's been said already, but today is a moment of profound grief and melancholy. One in which we publicly express our sadness, our love, our loss, and our resolve. It's impossible for us to cauterize the wound that has been inflicted upon the soul of the families and upon this country. And at these times words always seem too shallow to contain the depth of our sorrow, too thin to hold the pain of our loss, and too measured to reflect the rage in our hearts. They can only hope to speak to our love for those who love life, who took pride in the Navy, who found joy and meaning in their service to our country, who wore their patriotism with pride and with a humility born in the wellspring of hope for a better future for themselves and their families and for mankind itself.
Death snatched them away in one violent, unsuspecting moment. While they were making sure that the American people and our friends moved easily, in a dangerous world. Each day we're able to sleep safely under this blanket of freedom because of those who wear our nation's uniform are prepared to surrender life itself in the defense of liberty.
And everyone here at home and abroad, all who cherish and rejoice in the freedoms that we enjoy, they should pause and say a prayer for the sons and daughters that we have lost and those who are missing, and those who are wounded. For their unbridled courage, for their unbounded hope, for their immeasurable sacrifice, and for that of those who face danger every day, with pride and devotion to duty. No one, no one should ever pass up an American in uniform, without saying: Thank you, we're grateful. Always mindful that they are prepared to risk all of their dreams so that all of us can reach and realize ours.
It was a Civil War hero who said, "There is no guarantee of safety in peace and there is no inevitability of death in war." But we are certain of this much. That those men and women who were taken from us were taken in the very flower of their youth and in act of pure evil.
And we are certain of one thing more: To those who organized and orchestrated this barbarous act, you are on notice that our search for you will be relentless, that America will not rest until we find you, and the long arm of justice reaches out, however long, however far, and makes you pay for this crime.
Senator Kennedy, when President Kennedy son's John was Christened I remember reading that an ambassador from Ireland presenting him with an engraved cup, and a poem that was, in truth, a prayer.
"And when the storms break for him, may the tree shake for him their blossoms down. And in the night that he is troubled, may a friend wait for him so that his time be doubled. And in the end, of all loving and love, may the man above give him a crown."
To those families, those who are here today, those who have been taken from us, they live on. They live in our hearts. They live in our souls, they live in eternity itself. And when we are all joined together with them, as one day we must, we know they will be wearing, not a sailor's cap, but a shining crown.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentleman, the president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Secretary Cohen, General Reno, Secretary Danzig, General Shelton, distinguished members of the Senate and House, Governor, Admiral Clark, Admiral Natter, Chaplain Black, Master Chief Hefty, to the sailors of the USS Cole, the family members and friends, the Norfolk naval community, my fellow Americans, today we honor our finest young people, fallen soldiers who rose to freedom's challenge. We mourn their loss, celebrate their lives, offer the love and prayers of a grateful nation to their families.
For those of us who have to speak here, we are all mindful of the limits of our poor words to lift your spirits or warm your hearts. We know that God has given us the gift of reaching our middle years, and we now have to pray for your children, your husbands, your wives, your brothers, your sisters, who were taken so young.
We know we will never know them as you did or remember them as you will, the first time you saw them in uniform or the last time you said goodbye.
They all had their own stories and their own dreams. We Americans have learned something about each and every one of them over these last difficult days as their profiles, their lives, their loves, their service have been given to us.
For me, I learned a little more when I met with all the families this morning. Some followed the family tradition of Navy service, others hoped to use their service to earn a college degree. One of them had even worked for me in the White House. Richard Costelow was a technology wizard who helped to update the White House communications system for this new century.
All these very different Americans, all with their different stories, their life lines and love ties, answered the same call of service and found themselves on the USS Cole headed for the Persian Gulf where our forces are working to keep peace and stability in a region that could explode and disrupt the entire world.
Their tragic loss reminds us that even when America is not at war, the men and women of our military still risk their lives for peace.
I am quite sure history will record in great detail our triumphs in battle, but I regret that no one will ever be able to write a full account of the wars we never fought, the losses we never suffered, the tears we never shed, because men and women like those who were on the USS Cole were standing guard for peace. We should never ever forget that.
Today, I ask all Americans just to take a moment to thank the men and women of our armed forces for a debt we can never repay, whose character and courage more than even modern weapons makes our military the strongest in the world.
And in particular, I ask us to thank God today for the lives, the character and courage of the crew of the USS Cole, including the wounded and especially those we lost or are missing: Home Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter; Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer First Class Richard Costelow; Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis; Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna; Signalman Seaman Apprentice Cheron Ouis Gunn; Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels; Engineman Second Class Mark Ian Nieto; Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott Owens; Seaman Apprentice Lakiba Nicole Palmer; Engine Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett; Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy; Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux; Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Mananga Santiago; Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders; Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr.; Ensign Andrew Triplett; Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley.
In the names and faces of those we lost and mourn, the world sees our nation's greatest strength: People in uniform rooted in every race, creed and region on the face of the Earth, yet bound together by a common commitment to freedom and a common pride in being Americans.
That same spirit is living today as the crew of the USS Cole pulls together in a determined struggle to keep the determined warrior afloat.
The idea of common humanity and unity amidst diversity, so purely embodied by those we mourn today, must surely confound the minds of the hate-filled terrorists who killed them. They envy our strength without understanding the values that give us strength. For them, it is their way or no way: their interpretation, twisted though it may be, of a beautiful religious tradition; their political views; their racial and ethnic views. Their way or no way.
Such people can take innocent life. They have caused your tears and anguish, but they can never heal or build harmony or bring people together. That is work only free, law-abiding people can do, people like the sailors of the USS Cole.
To those who attacked them we say: You will not find a safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail.
America will not stop standing guard for peace or freedom or stability in the Middle East and around the world. But some way, some day, people must learn the lesson of the lives of those we mourn today, of how they worked together, of how they lived together, of how they reached across all the lines that divided them and embraced their common humanity and the common values of freedom and service.
Not far from here, there is a quiet place that honors those who gave their lives in service to our country. Adorning its entrance are words from a poem by Archibald MacLeish, not only a tribute to the young we lost, but a summons to those of us left behind. Listen to them.
"The young no longer speak, but they have a silence that speaks for them at night. They say, we were young, remember us. They say, we have done what we could, but until it is finished, it is not done. They say, our deaths are not ours, they are yours. They will mean what you make them. They say, whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope, we cannot say. It is you who must say this. They say, we leave you our deaths; give them their meaning."
The lives of the men and women we lost on the USS Cole meant so much to those who loved them, to all Americans, to the cause of freedom.
They have given us their deaths, let us give them their meaning, their meaning of peace and freedom, of reconciliation and love, of service, endurance and hope. After all they have given us, we must give them their meaning.
I ask now that you join me in a moment of silence and prayer for the lost, the missing and their grieving families.
(MOMENT OF SILENCE)
Amen. Thank you, and may God bless you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the guests please rise as we sing the Navy hymn and remain standing for the benediction, "Taps," and the departure of the official party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us open our minds and our lives to the word of God. In the book of Samuel, we read of King David's lament for Saul and Jonathan. How have the mighty fallen? In life, they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles. They were stronger than lions. I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan. I grieve for you, my brothers and sisters of the USS Cole. America grieves and remembers.
Let us pray. Eternal Father, strong to save, enable us to depart in peace from this place, hallowed by the deeds and sacrifices of sailors living and dead, send us forth with comfort and courage, so that we may discharge our sacred obligations to our shipmates. Refresh weary bodies and anxious minds, for freedom's exacting requirements, still call upon us and our families. In your holy name we pray, amen.
HEMMER: Somber moments in Norfolk, yet filled with national pride, the final salute for the victims of the USS Cole. That ceremony now drawing its final curtain there in Norfolk, Virginia. As President Clinton works his way through the crowd, we expect him to continue meeting with family members there who have gathered in Norfolk.
Earlier during his speech, the president warned that the terrorists responsible will, quote, not find a safe harbor.
From Norfolk now, here is Mark Potter -- Mark.
POTTER: Bill, one thing that strikes me, looking out at crowd, is that there are a lot of long faces there. This has been a very, very sad hour for these people. And I'm struck by the juxtaposition, on the one hand, of all the military might that is here at pier 12. The ships, the USS Eisenhower, the Ross, the McFall, and in between those ships, on the pier, those thousands and thousands of sad faces making the point that despite all the military hardware and the power, times like this sometimes just cannot be avoided.
POTTER: This will continue to be a very emotional time because now the families will leave and the sailors will leave and the emotions we saw at the beginning of this ceremony will be redoubled as they leave these people behind.
HEMMER: Mark, we're going to put you on standby there. And once again remind our viewers that six U.S. sailors still remain missing in the Gulf of Aden back in Yemen. We'll continue to watch the pictures and for more, here's my partner, Daryn.
KAGAN: And as we continue to watch those pictures, want to bring in who's sitting with us right now, retired Navy captain, Alec Fraser, who has been our consultant and helping us understand a lot and interpret a lot of the pictures that we've seen and a lot of the information that we've been gathering over the last few days. One thing I was struck by, especially as we just saw the pictures of the sailors that died, that gave their lives aboard the USS Cole, so young, so many young people.
How do you explain why the 17 victims were all young people all grouped like that?
CAPT. ALEC FRASER, U.S. NAVY (RET.): They were the young folks because they were the ones that were going on watch next. The ship had just finished its mooring evolutions, the senior leadership was responsible for those evolutions, were still on station. Many of these sailors were the ones that were in the mess decks eating lunch, getting ready to go on watch, preparing for the next round of evolutions for the ship.
KAGAN: And so they just happened to be where the explosion hit. It's was simply a case of wrong place, wrong time.
FRASER: Simply a case of timing.
KAGAN: Tragic, definitely tragic. Calling on your many years in the Navy, you look at this and you're reminded of the dedication that you learned in your many years at sea.
FRASER: I looked at the faces as we saw them manning the rail today and thought back to the faces that I've seen manning the rail for so many years and I ask the question today, as I ask many times, before: Why do they do it? What is it that instills these young men and women to serve their country? And it reminds me of a remark that, in the movie, "Gettysburg," based on the novel, "Killer Angels," that Colonel Chamberlain made, said that the United States military is unique.
In the history of the world, no other military has been focused on not gaining land or power or money; but the United States military is set up to set people free and keep them free. And the sailors of the Cole and the ceremony that we saw today continued that tradition. They showed that American cared.
KAGAN: And symbolize the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives.
Of course, the investigation goes on to still try to figure out who did this.
With more on that, here's Bill.
HEMMER: All right, Daryn.
We're going to check in now with our correspondent at the Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre.
And, Jamie, certainly it must be a somber day there as well. What's the mood thus far?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's great understanding for the tragic loss that these families have felt. Everybody who serves in the military has been in the position where they knew that this could be them or one of their loved ones. It's always understood that U.S. military personnel around the world are always at risk because of the threat of terrorist attack against the United States.
In fact, just today the State Department issued another warning to American travelers in the region that, because of the potential threat of a terrorist attack, that they should lower their profile; avoid crowds; just be aware that there are indications from U.S. intelligence of threats against Americans and American interests in the region.
The Pentagon is continuing to look at the security questions surrounding the visit of the USS Cole to that port in Yemen. In fact, we're told today that a retired four-star Admiral Hal Gehman, the former U.S. Atlantic joint forces commander, will be appointed as one of the four-stars who'll be heading up a special independent review to look at whether, given the threat level, it was a prudent and wise decision to take that ship into port; and also, perhaps more importantly, from the Pentagon's point of view, to look ahead about what can be done to increase security for U.S. ships that are refueling or stopping in overseas ports. That is just getting underway now.
HEMMER: Jamie, in addition to that, the investigation continues. The reports we get is that that investigation appears to be moving along quite quickly.
Is that a measure of satisfaction, in any way, knowing the reports that are coming out of Aden?
MCINTYRE: Well, I think you heard National Security Adviser Sandy Berger this morning on CNN complimenting the government of Yemen for the cooperation that they've extended so far. It's because of that cooperation that there have been some -- apparently some significant leads in the case, including the discovery, apparently, of some bomb-making material in an apartment in Yemen not too far from the port area; and some other leads that could turn out to be promising.
Another indication of the cooperation -- and some here might even say surprising cooperation from the government of Yemen -- said the FBI Director Louis Freeh has been dispatched to the area. He's supposed to arrive, I believe, sometime tomorrow Yemen time in order to take a first-hand look at the investigation and how its going and to, perhaps, step it up into a higher gear.
But at this point, the U.S. government is continuing to express satisfaction with the cooperation it's getting from the government of Yemen which, not too long ago, was considered an adversary or a foe of the United States.
HEMMER: Jamie, thank you; Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon there.
Also on the ground in Norfolk is CNN's Mark Potter -- want to go back to Mark.
We put you on hold just a few moments ago, Mark. Pick it up where you were before.
POTTER: Well, Bill, a point that I want to make is about the crowd. I am in the crowd. I've been watching them since this ceremony ended and they have not moved.
They are standing here quietly. Some very sad, some crying -- most just standing quietly, watching the events, reflecting. Nobody's moving. Everybody is just standing here, heads bowed. Quietly contemplating what has just happened. They could leave, but they're not. They're just standing here.
HEMMER: OK, Mark; Mark Potter there in Norfolk.
Certainly there will be fallout from this ceremony and complete coverage throughout the day here on CNN.
But before we say good-bye...
KAGAN: Yes, before we do that, we want to bring in our retired Captain Alec Fraser one more time.
I know this has been very moving for you to watch, as a Navy man, as yourself.
Any thoughts that you can leave us with before we close up our coverage?
FRASER: I thought the chief of naval operations, Admiral Vern Clark, said it very well when he said these were lives that mattered; and American showed today that all the lives matter and that was a moving ceremony that would stay in the minds of everyone that watched it.
KAGAN: As we heard before, the Navy doesn't have a textbook of how you're supposed to put together ceremonies like this. I think all would agree they put together a very moving and meaningful service.
Retired Navy Captain Alec Fraser, thank you for all your help as we've been having our Cole coverage.
Also want to thank our correspondent at the Pentagon; also Mark Potter, who's been at Norfolk for a number of days now. And we also want, I think, express -- Bill, on behalf of you and I and our whole crew here, our thoughts out to the families of the Cole and the sailors.
HEMMER: Yes; on a personal note, we were on the air last week when the USS Cole was being reported as taking a hit there in Aden, Yemen. And we know the number of phone calls that came into our newsroom from U.S. families that were concerned about their own sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, husbands and wives -- all U.S. sailors, men and woman, who were onboard the Cole. There was an outstanding question for a long time for a number of these families as to the whereabouts and the condition of their loved ones onboard. And, certainly, the fate for many, well over 300, turned out to be quite good.
But, as we know today: 39 injured, 17 dead as a result of the attack last week. The healing continues in Norfolk. So, too, will our coverage throughout the day here on CNN.
For Daryn Kagan, I'm Bill Hemmer.
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