In tribute to the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001, Members of the United States Congress convened in a commemorative joint meeting in New York City's Federal Hall on Friday, September 6, 2002. Read the remarks by Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican Leader Trent Lott below and visit Senate History News to learn more about how this event marked the return of Congress to its first home.
The United States Congress has come here to commemorate a shattering experience that transformed America. The poet Yeats, after a moment of violent upheaval in his own country, wrote,
"All is changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."
As we near the first anniversary of September 11th, we feel a profound sadness. Our hearts ache or those who died and for their families and loved ones. At the same time, we are filled with an abiding sense of gratitude to the people who live and work in this great city, especially the courageous rescuers, for the way they inspired a stunned and wounded nation. In your countless acts of heroism and compassion, a terrible beauty was born. In an hour of horror and grief, you showed us how to go on. Here in New York, at the Pentagon and in that lonely field in Pennsylvania, the wounds the terrorists inflicted were deep. But America's resolve was deeper.
Let history record that the terrorists failed. They sought to destroy America by attacking what they thought were our greatest strengths. But they did not understand; the true strength of America is not steel or concrete. It is our belief in the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. It is our shared faith in liberty and our unwavering commitment to each other.
What happened on September 11th did not diminish our strength; it renewed it. We stand united today as proud citizens of the oldest and strongest democracy on Earth. Our faith in that democracy and in our future is absolute and unshakable.
Next Wednesday, September 11th, an eternal flame will be lit in Battery Park. That flame will symbolize our determination to never, ever forget. We will never forget the heartbreaking loss. We will never forget the selfless heroism. We will never forget the terrible beauty that was born here, one year ago.
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress and Distinguished Guests.
Over the years, New York City has been called many things -- from New Amsterdam to The Big Apple.
Today, the Congress of the United States calls it . . . home.
For this is where the First Congress began the work we continue to this day, the work of ordered liberty, preserving and expanding the freedoms that now, as then, are the inalienable right of every person.
Two centuries ago, there were those who thought that was nonsense. In their ignorance and arrogance, they called our American experiment a doomed folly.
But history overtook them, and their crowns and armies are dust beneath our feet.
There are those like them today, who cannot see beyond the limits of their own hatred.
They do not understand that, in the unending struggle against tyranny, Divine Providence – by whatever name we use – Providence is always on the side of Freedom.
When the First Congress was meeting here in New York, in January, 1790, President Washington asked its Members for "the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom."
As we face today's challenge to our country, we pledge to the people of New York just what we ask of them, and of all Americans: "the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom."
The duration of our present conflict, and its eventual price, may be in doubt. But there can be no doubt as to its outcome.
From this city's one day of horror – out of all the loss and sorrow – has come a strength, a resolve, a determination which – from Manhattan to Mississippi – now binds us together for the mighty work that lies ahead.