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 and opportunity.

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 world.

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 Autumn’s Tuesday morning.

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.


©2001 Commonwealth of Australia.