President Jacques Chirac
Speech to French Community in Washington, D.C.
September 19, 2001
My dear fellow countrymen and women,
After the tragedies of last week, I wanted to be here with you at this time
of affliction and mourning, during my visit to the United States for talks with
For you, this has been a trauma you have experienced personally, as well as
with your nearest and dearest, your friends, and your colleagues at work. I
know you have set an example of dignity and solidarity in coping with this disaster
whose scale exceeds anything imaginable. With the people of France as a whole,
you have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with America in this moment of intense emotion.
The century just over revealed to us the monstrous nature of the demons lurking
in the human soul. We now have dreadful confirmation that people still exist
that are capable of perpetrating crimes against humanity, against the universal
conscience of mankind quite simply against life itself.
How can we conceive of such hatred, planned and organized to strike blindly
against so many victims? I am thinking of those thousands of men and women who
got up that morning to go to work ; I am thinking of their families, of the
children they had just left behind, of all those who loved them and who suddenly
find themselves with a part of their lives cut off. It has been said that what
was targeted were the symbols of American power. No, it was not American power
that was harmed. It was human dignity, it was the fragility of the human condition,
the very principle of life.
But make no mistake. Taking human life may be easy. But the values of our democratic
societies cannot be destroyed. For they are founded on respect for others, on
the acceptance of differences, on solidarity and dialogue : they are more powerful
than any act of criminal folly.
I am horrified at what has happened, but I do not fear for the future of our
societies. Here in America, and at home in France, as indeed everywhere in the
world where human values reign supreme, we shall stand firm. We will meet fanaticism,
hatred and terror with courage, determination and strength in the service of
justice and right, respecting our values.
I told President Bush that France stood four-square behind America. The ties
binding France and the United States have always been strongest in the trials
of history. Those ties are indissoluble. Today they find expression in the feelings
and emotions of the French people, and in the active, effective cooperation
between our two countries in the fight against terrorism. The whole international
community should participate in that effort.
Once more, as in the past, the democracies will prevail.