Department Of Interior

Remarks Prepared for Delivery
By The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
Flight 93 Memorial
September 11, 2003

It was 1863. It was a different time and a different kind of war when President Abraham Lincoln came to Pennsylvania to deliver a eulogy for those who died at Gettysburg.

You have heard and remember what he said: "…we cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

As I look around this field, Lincoln's words ring true again. There is little that we can do or say or build that can be equal to the sacrifice of the heroes who died on Flight 93 two years ago today.

But our hearts tell a different story. Our hearts tell of a need to memorialize-to somehow distinguish and identify this site for future generations.

The days and weeks following the tragedy, mourners came here with their tokens and flowers, their religious medals, candles and flags. They wanted to leave a symbol of their own devastation and fear. They wanted to honor those who died; and they wanted there to be something tangible left to point to this tragedy.

The evidence is that some 10,000 items have been left at the site.

They are reminders of sympathy, courage, country, duty, honor and faith.

Nine-eleven-this date from two years ago-is embedded in our memories. It was marked first by how ordinary it seemed. Each person who wants to tell the story of where they were when they heard about the World Trade Center, begins with the mundane. We went to work, we went to school, meetings were held and newspapers were read.

We talked about the weather and asked after families.

Then four sets of hijackers changed this day in September for all time. It is true, "The evil that men do lives after them."

We are never going to know the answers to all the questions we have about this day in 2001 and the terrorists who changed our lives. But we do know that three airplanes hit their targets, while the fourth did not.
We have bits and pieces of what we believe took place on board Flight 93. The strongest evidence of what those passengers must have done is the existence of this crash site in the woods of Shanksville, Pennsylvania instead of at the White House or the U.S. Capitol.

Because of their actions, we will never have to know what would have happened to our seat of government had the hijackers succeeded.

There are many family members here today-relatives of the passengers of Flight 93. Each of you has a story to tell about your loved one.

I have a connection to one of the passengers because he worked for the Department of the Interior. Richard Guadagno was manager of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Northern California. As the only trained law enforcement officer on board, I like to think he was a part of whatever the passengers did to thwart the terrorists.

Here is why. Peter Nylander, a special agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Oregon, tells this story about Guadagno's earlier job when he worked at Basket Slough National wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Rich was out for a nightly run on the refuge when he spotted a man in a vehicle, shooting off a handgun. The vehicle turned toward Rich, who hid in a ditch until the vehicle came closer. Without a badge and armed only with a pen-sized flashlight, Rich jumped from the ditch, ordered the man to stop his vehicle, secured the gun and took the man into custody.

A man, who would face down someone with a gun while he was armed only with a small flashlight, might have also faced down a terrorist.

Again, we will probably never know for sure.

We come today to honor all the passengers and crew.

We begin a process, mandated by the U.S. Congress, which will culminate in a memorial on this site.

It will involve an unprecedented collaboration of surviving family members and loved ones, local community residents and other concerned citizens in partnership with the National Park Service.

The Flight 93 Advisory Commission is comprised of 15 members, including family members, local residents and officials, and national figures. Guadagno's father Gerald has agreed to serve as the representative of the Director of the National Park Service.

We already have a wonderful person on the job here with Joanne Hanley as superintendent.

The first phase of their task will be to seek an understanding of the meaning of the memorial and create a vision. A national competition will be held for a design of the memorial structure as well as the surrounding park site.

The direction to the commission is that their planning be informed, thoughtful, inclusive and consensus-based. They have until this month in 2005 to complete their recommendations to the Congress.

So today begins a journey. It is my pleasure to introduce those who will bring to this site a sense of healing and remembrance.

[Swearing-in ceremony follows.]


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