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US Embassy 911 Memorial Service - PM Remarks

Wednesday 11 September 2002

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister


11 September 2002 Memorial Service
at United States Embassy


11.30 am

Wednesday 11 September 2002

Around 3000 innocent people lost their lives on 11 September 2001. This date has been forever etched into our memories. The world will never forget the tragedy which took place. Those attacks were acts of utterly incomprehensible violence which shook us all profoundly.

The American people suffered a great loss. As America mourned, we in New Zealand mourned with you. It did not take long for the world to realise that these attacks were not just upon the United States; these were attacks against humanity. New Zealanders were among those killed on 11 September; and there were victims from some 79 other countries.

This memorial service recognises the grief and destruction caused by the terrorist attacks of 11 September. But it also celebrates the determination and strength of spirit with which the American people have faced the challenges posed by those awful events.

What will always be remembered is the selfless spirit of those thousands of firefighters and police officers who toiled to find survivors. I have been proud to meet New York firefighters invited to New Zealand by our families for well deserved rest and recreation.

New Zealand has stood with the international community in combating terrorism and seeking to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks. New Zealanders are working alongside Americans and defence personnel from many other nations in Afghanistan today.

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When visiting New York in March this year, I went to Ground Zero to pay New Zealand’s respects to those who died. There where the towers of the World Trade Centre used to stand, I was privileged to receive a New Zealand flag which had previously flown at the World Trade Centre.

New York Police Officers Matthius and Moran found the flag in the wreckage. It was burnt and it was torn, but it survived as a proud symbol of New Zealand. It now hangs in our Parliament as a powerful reminder of the terrorist attacks.

Terrorism knows no global boundaries and distance is no guarantee of protection. The tragedy of 11 September has united people of all faiths and beliefs. We know we have to work together to build a better world.

Nothing can ever compensate the victims of this tragedy and their families and communities for what happened on 11 September. The thoughts of all New Zealanders continue to be with all who suffered personal loss and directly experienced tragedy on that awful day. We hope that all those families and communities who lost their loved ones will have the strength to continue to rebuild their lives.


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