Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Chargé d’Affaires Arnold Chacon
Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the September 11 Attacks
as prepared for delivery
Mr. Speaker, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests thank you for joining us, and welcome to Lornado.
Twenty years ago this morning, our world was changed. No one who was alive on September 11, 2001, will ever forget where they were on that day, when they heard the news from New York, or Washington, or a field in Pennsylvania.
And none of us can ever forget the images we saw that morning—images seared in our memories. First responders running into buildings, determined to save lives. Makeshift memorials in front of police stations, fire houses, and embassies around the world. And airplanes lined up on the tarmac in Gander, Halifax, Vancouver, and a dozen other airports across Canada.
The 9/11 attacks might have happened in the United States, but they were attacks on all of us.
They were attacks on the fundamental values our countries share, and on the kind of world we hope to pass our children. The human toll was devastating. Nearly 3,000 people—not just Americans or Canadians, but citizens from around the world, from countries whose representatives are with us today:
Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. And twenty years later, we still feel their loss. This morning we remember them, and we honor the courage of their families and friends—some of whom we are privileged to have with us today.
Three days after the attacks, over 100,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill to remember the fallen. Sussex Drive, in front of our Embassy, was covered with flowers and cards. In a small town in Newfoundland and in dozens of other communities across this country, Canadians opened their homes and their hearts to stranded passengers, and strangers fast became friends.
My predecessor, the late Ambassador Paul Cellucci, later recalled that “when terrorists struck at the heart of America…there was a valuable lesson…to be learned about the relationship between the United States and Canada”—namely, “the instinct of Canadians to help their neighbors in whatever way they could.”
As President Biden has said—and as every American knows—the United States has no closer friend than Canada. This was true that morning twenty years ago, and it is still true today. And so on behalf of the people of the United States, I would like to say thank you.
Thank you, Canada, for being not just our partner and ally, but foremost our friend.
Thank you, Canada, for your sacrifices in Afghanistan.
And thank you all for standing with us on that awful day, and in the 20 years since. We will never forget.