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Rice Remarks to Halifax Airport Officials & Staff

Remarks to Halifax International Airport Officials and Staff

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Halifax International Airport, Halifax NS, Canada
September 11, 2006

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Peter, for those wonderful words. Today, September 11th, is a day of remembrance. It's a day to think about the lives lost, those whose lives were cut short. These were people with a history and with future plans. They have left behind loved ones who will forever feel the pain and the scars of what happened on September 11th.

It's a day of course also to recognize that our lives did change forever because for the United States and for people around the world, the sense of vulnerability that your skies could be taken over by terror in quite that way still exists today.

It's a day of course and to know and to remember that there is indeed evil in the world and that we saw its awful face on that horrible day. But it's also a day to recognize that very often when the worst in human behavior and in human nature exhibits itself, so does the best in human nature and in human behavior. And that is what we saw here.

This morning I went to first a church service to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and then I walked across with the Vice President and with the President's Cabinet to hold a moment of silence on the lawn of the White House to remember those who had fallen.

And as I was standing there, I thought to myself that it seems just an instant ago that 9/11 happened and yet it seems a lifetime ago that 9/11 took place. And as we were standing there on the lawn, an airplane started to land at Reagan International Airport and you could see its lights in the distance. And shortly after that, a plane took off toward another part of the city and you realize how often we had seen planes take off and planes land and never given it a second thought. It's a part of our modern life.

And so I know that when you awakened on the morning of September 11th, much as people did around the world, you would never have guessed that you would see the events of September 11th, but more importantly that you would be called to act because of the events of September 11th.

And I am here to thank you on behalf of the people of America because you acted. You acted with skill and with professionalism. It is extraordinary to see these photographs and to see these planes landed as if they were on an aircraft carrier. It's extraordinary to see the pictures of people who thanked you many, many months later as they once again flew in the airspace of Halifax, the airspace of Canada, and just wanted to say thank you to a friend.

And so you acted. You acted with skill and professionalism despite the fact that that morning no one could have been prepared for what was asked of you.

And of course you acted with compassion. Because for the people who had to land because the skies were no longer safe, what they wanted most was a place to be safe and a place to have a warm and friendly smile and maybe a cup of tea, but to know that there were people who cared and who would at that moment reach out and take care of them. And that is what you did.

The people of America will never forget your skill and your professionalism. They will never forget that you made a place for them to be safe in a time of great danger. But more than anything, they will never forget the compassion and the kindness and the kind word and the love that was exhibited for them that day.

It is true that Canada and the United States are the best of friends. The United States and Canada share a long border and commerce and trade and the movement of people freely every day. We share values and we share ties of kinship. And occasionally, when tragedy strikes, we share compassion. And perhaps it is not a bad thing that when the dark and ugly side of human behavior is exposed that we are reminded of the good and that we are reminded that there is nothing like a friend in a time of need.

I want to thank you on behalf of all of us and I want to read to you a letter that President Bush has sent along to thank the people of Halifax and of the airport in particular. It reads:

"On the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001, Americans remember the goodness and generosity of the many Canadians who assisted our country in a time of need. Thousands of innocent lives were lost on that terrible morning, but in the face of evil the people of Canada provided help and hope to our citizens.

"For days after September 11th, our neighbors to the north welcomed more than 33,000 passengers on diverted American flights and selflessly came to the aid of men, women and children who were concerned about their safety and in need of shelter. Countless Canadians opened their homes and churches, provided food and medical attention, and arranged for calls to family and friends.

"Canada's response to this emergency revealed the true character of her people and demonstrated the unique friendship between Americans and Canadians. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to the employees of Halifax International Airport and all the individuals and communities who supported American citizens during that great tragedy. Your efforts reflected the best of the humanitarian spirit and helped strengthen the special relationship between our two nations.

"Laura and I send our best wishes, and so too do the American people."

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


Released on September 11, 2006


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