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Tom Ridge Speaks at Shanksville Ceremony

Aired September 11, 2002 - 10:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: As the ceremony at the Pentagon was going on here in New York, the reading of the names continued, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- that is Governor Tom Ridge, now director of homeland security, and Carol Lin is there also for us.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Aaron, right now, the homeland security director, who was then governor of Pennsylvania, is talking to -- directly to the family members here, and talking about the sacrifice that their loved ones made that day on Flight 93 -- let's listen in.

TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY: ... or 40 more years.

RIDGE: And we do not know how long it will take to defeat the scourge of terrorism or how many Americans will give their lives for the cause.

But we do know one thing with absolute certainty: The passengers and crew of Flight 93 won the first battle.

(APPLAUSE)

Sandy Dahl said that adversity does not build character, adversity reveals character. She's absolutely right. These 40 amazing, extraordinary people had character in abundance.

"Everyday heroes?" you might ask. No, they were heroes every single day. These were men and women who were well-practiced in the art of making a difference, whether it was restoring a shelter for battered women, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, tutoring elementary schoolchildren, becoming an activist for the disabled or planning a humanitarian sabbatical to India. One crew member even used to save leftover airline meals to feed the needy. Heroes, every single day, because they brought love and joy to so many.

And as a spouse and a father myself, I can only imagine the pain their deaths have caused you, a pain that will be relived not just every anniversary, but every single day.

RIDGE: But today is not just to mark their tragic and their honorable deaths, today is also to celebrate their lives and to express a nation's gratitude for their actions.

In their final moments, our 40 brave heroes' thoughts were with their family and their friends. Your love sustained them. Your support and love gave them the courage to act. I hope you can imagine -- I hope you can imagine that that love and that support may have even put a smile on their face for a moment or two, and you were in their hearts as they entered heaven.

Today, we also honor and thank a community. The people of Shanksville and Somerset County embraced the families of Flight 93 as their own.

(APPLAUSE)

RIDGE: Through kindnesses...

LIN: There, you are seeing some of the families, some 500 family -- some 500 family and friends of the passengers of Flight 93, listening to Governor Ridge as he addresses the very personal loss that they took one year ago today.

RIDGE: ... "This sleepy little town just puts its arms around you and embraces you."

(APPLAUSE)

This is a community, ladies and gentlemen, that appreciates and accepts its historical legacy. You just ask those Flight 93 ambassadors who volunteer...

LIN: Governor Ridge just wrapping up his remarks here as he speaks to many of the first responders who arrived here, hoping to make it a rescue operation, but not finding anyone to rescue.

And the family members down below, I would say half of them, this is the first time that they have been to the crash site, a very emotional experience, but what family members are telling me is that it has been an uplifting one, that this is an important anniversary for them in the sense that it gives them the opportunity to not only be here, to see the reality of the crash site, but also to have a sense of moving on.

It has been a touching ceremony. We heard earlier from Sandy Dahl, the wife of the captain of Flight 93, who talked about looking forward, about the fallen angels and about how it is time to look forward.

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