Elks' Exalted Ruler: 'We Have Seen the Greatness of America'
Full text of Ginny Maio's remarks at Tuesday's 9/11 ceremony at Riverside Gardens Park
Editor's note: The following are remarks delivered by Ginny Maio, exalted ruler, Elks Lodge 233, at Tuesday evening's 9/11 memorial:
"Good evening and thank you for being a part of this memorial service.
"Sept. 11, 2001 was one of those days that each of us will never forget. We will always remember where we were, what we were doing and how we first learned about the attack on our great nation. It was a calm, clear September morning that would be shattered by terrorists driven by hatred and destruction. It was a day that would witness more than 3,000 innocent people lose their lives.
"On that day, and in its aftermath, we saw the greatness of America in the bravery of victims; in the heroism of first responders who laid down their lives to save others; in the compassion of people who stepped forward to help those they had never met; and in the generosity of millions of Americans who enriched our country with acts of service and kindness. Since that day, we have seen the greatness of America further demonstrated in the courage of our brave men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and around the world to advance freedom and prevent terrorist attacks on America.
"Our purpose here today is to remember that day, which has been designated as 'Patriot Day by an act of Congress, and to strengthen our resolve as Americans.
"Founded in New York City in 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has always been a patriotic organization devoted to charitable purposes. The Order of Elks is distinctively American and as such we have made this service a public expression of our love of this great country.
"The flag of country is one of our enduring symbols and our ranks are filled by American citizens who seek to foster a continuing spirit of patriotism and service to our great nation and to never forget those who have suffered in our country's defense and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
"And so it is fitting that we pause today to remember those who gave their all in defense of our nation on that fateful day.
"As Americans, it is just and appropriate that we gather here today in this beautiful setting to focus our attention and thoughts on the events of Sept. 11, 2001. As we think back to that day, and those days immediately following, it brings back the full and stark reality of a time and of places that will never be forgotten by all those who lived through that dark day and the days that followed.
"As we reflect and relive those tragic hours and days, we should think back on how this event changed our lives and the lives of all Americans.
"Reflecting on that day, we always think of courage. Courage in its purest form — spontaneous, unselfish, uncompromising.
"The courage of all those that lost their lives: citizens, first responders, soldiers, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
"The courage of those that fought the attackers high in the skies over Pennsylvania that ensured others would live.
"The courage of those often forgotten who struggled to overcome horrific injuries sustained during the attack. And finally, the courage of all of us, collectively, as citizens, to respond to and recover from the events of those days."