Dunford Honors 9/11 Fallen, Calls for Renewed Commitment to Freedom

By the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the following remarks during the 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

First responders salute a large American flag as it’s unfurled over the west side of the Pentagon at sunrise in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2017. 

It’s an honor to join you as we pause to reflect on all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

At this ceremony, we’re particularly mindful of the 184 who died here in the halls of the Pentagon and aboard Flight 77.

On that September morning, 16 years ago, when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, as they attacked the World Trade Center, and as they attempted to attack other government buildings here in Washington, DC, they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values.

The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values and, as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat. But, they were wrong. Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve. Instead of hopelessness, our mourning turned into action.

“Our love for those we lost strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.”
-Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

So this morning, as we recall the events of 9/11, it is appropriate for those still serving to remember and honor those who died, those who continue suffering from injuries, and those left behind.

But, if we truly want to honor those we remember today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values and the cause of freedom. Each of us will walk away from this simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over and that the cause of freedom requires sacrifice.

And, each of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect our families, friends, and fellow citizens from acts such as those that occurred on 9/11.

President Donald Trump participates in a wreath laying ceremony during the 9/11 Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2017.
All images by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

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