SECNAV Message on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

10 September 2021
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro video message to the Department of the Navy, September 10, 2021, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks.

04:10
VIDEO | 04:10 | SECNAV 9/11 Remarks

Transcript of video as follows:

Today, I am your Secretary of the Navy.

But 20 years ago, on September 11th, 2001, I was the Commanding Officer of the pre-commissioning ship BULKELEY.

I was in my hometown city of New York for what we expected would be the last meeting of the Commissioning Committee.

As we gathered aboard INTREPID, a floating museum to past conflicts, a brand new war began. One that would last for 20 years.

I made my way to Battery Park and took charge of the Sailors who had gathered at the Navy Reserve Center.

I’ll never forget the burning towers, the chaos in the streets, and the valor of the police, firefighters, and first responders.

And I’ll certainly never forget the 2,977 innocent souls that we lost that day, and the families that still miss them today.

I know the 20th anniversary of 9-11 brings many emotions and memories with our Department of the Navy family.

Some of you, like me, were in New York City that day.

Some of you were here at the Pentagon, where 125 of our brothers and sisters in the Department of Defense lost their lives - including several that I personally served with.

And many of you only know of 9-11 from childhood memories, or from the stories told by others.

No matter what 9-11 means to you, there’s no question that each of you has answered the call that was sounded that day.

If you served on 9-11, like those Sailors I took charge of in New York, you answered the call.

If you stepped forward to serve in the months, years, and decades that followed, you answered the call.

If you volunteered to support our mission, equip our force, or care for our military families and veterans, you answered the call.

And if you carry with you the memories of service in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere over the past 20 years, you answered the call.

I know this anniversary comes at a time when many in our Navy and Marine Corps family are hurting.

On this day, we’re reminded of the sacrifices so many of our service members made over the last 20 years, including those who died in service, and our Gold Star Families.

That is a reminder that freedom does not come cheap.

But just as we will never forget September 11th, the American people will never forget how you responded.

Because of you, countless people, including hundreds of thousands of women and children, have experienced greater freedom and opportunity than they ever would have imagined.

Because of you, tens of thousands of families were rescued and protected, living on to give their children a brighter future.

Because of you, our Nation, and our world, is a safer place.

I am so proud to serve alongside each and every one of you.

Take pride in your service, and all that we’ve accomplished together since that fateful September day twenty years ago.

Take this opportunity to reach out for help if you need it – or see the need in others.

If you are struggling, our Department has counselors, chaplains, and support professionals ready to help.

You are not alone in this journey. You matter. And your service has changed the world.

Three months after 9-11 I returned with my crew to New York City, commissioning USS BULKELEY.

8,000 people attended the ceremony, gathering to pay tribute to those who had lost their lives that day, their families, and to you, the brave men and women who serve our country.

Later that week, our ship passed by Ground Zero on the way out of New York harbor.

We drew to attention, saluted the fallen, and played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

It was a sight that brought hope to the city, just as each and every one of you today brings hope to others. You all serve as freedom’s torch throughout the world.

I thank you and your families for your service.

May God bless each and every one of you.

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