Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
Eulogy at a Memorial Service for World Trade Center Attack Victims
New York, New York
September 28, 2001
Fellow Australians and New Zealanders
Our friends from the United States of America
These have been dark days for those who cherish notions of peace, freedom and
goodwill to all.
None of us can forget the searing images of reckless destruction wreaked upon
the twin towers of the World Trade Center symbols of global prosperity
None of us can fail to be stupefied by the audacity and scale of these attacks
upon us all New Yorkers; Australians; New Zealanders; citizens of the
None of us can be other than horrified at the senseless killing and maiming
of thousands of innocents going about their daily lives on a Autumns
Today, over two weeks after September 11, 2001, our hope against hope that some
survivors might somehow emerge from the smoking embers has given way. We have
come to realise that the missing - our relatives, our friends, our colleagues
have not survived.
And so we gather here today to mourn our loss, wrought upon us by the needless
suffering and death caused by a truly monstrous, barbaric act of terror.
There are those amongst us who have lost a sister, a mother, or daughter; a
brother, father or son. They were office workers, downtown commuters, airline
passengers, or tourists looking over lower Manhattan, New York harbour, Brooklyn
bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
These were Australians and New Zealanders who exemplified the best of our common
spirit curious, adventurous, open to the world here in New York
City, a truly global centre for enterprise and opportunity. These were antipodeans
in whose laughter or tears of memories past we shall not again bear witness.
For each and every one of the Australians, and New Zealanders, who were taken
from us in this disaster, a part of ourselves also has been taken away. And
none of us will ever be the same person again.
Our loss, moreover, is not just individual. Today, we share a sense of common
loss - and not just because of the enormity of this crime - the location, the
number of casualties, or the scale of physical destruction.
Today, our common loss is one of innocence the taking of so many blameless
lives and the assault on our children and their right to gaze in wonder at the
world around them.
Today, our common loss is one of security being able to live out our
everyday lives in the absence of fear, of retribution - of the impact of malice,
cowardice and downright evil.
Today, our common loss is one of liberty our shared rights and freedoms,
for which Americans, Australians, and New Zealanders struggled together and
prevailed in the last century, and which at the dawn of a new century we are
now called to hold and cherish dear.
On the other side of the world, Australians and New Zealanders have responded
to the pain and tears of New York City. The US Ambassador to Australia, Tom
Scheiffer, found a note left at the US Consulate in Melbourne at a multi-faith
gathering last week. He read aloud:
By the tears in our eyes
Be assured, we grieve with you.
By the grief in our hearts
Be assured, we love you.
By the love in our thoughts
Be assured, we will strengthen you,
And by your strength
Be assured, you will triumph.
Innocence, security and liberty came under attack on September 11th. As Australians
and New Zealanders, I am certain that those who are lost to us would want us
to repair the assault on our innocence, to restore our sense of security, and
to renew our rights and freedoms.
They would ask that we hold no grudge against any particular ethnic group, any
race, any creed or colour or religion as a result of their deaths.
They would ask that we not seek needless revenge or retribution, but instead
work with patience, resolve, and wisdom.
They would ask that we seek justice not just in the names of the more than six
thousand lost to us, or the extraordinary damage to the lives and property of
those who survived them.
They would ask that we seek to restore common values of decency and charity,
so that their children, and ours, might run and play, free from fear and confident
of their future.
Today we ask that Almighty God watch over us, comfort us, and strengthen us
in our grief and sorrow. We ask that He grants us patience and resolve in facing
all that is to come. And we thank Him for the lives we mourn today, and for
the promise of life anew, tomorrow.