Remarks of Former Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro 9/11 Ground Zero Photography Exhibit House of Quality Artists Center, Jerusalem

Thank you for coming here today to join us in marking the ten year commemoration of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, you honor us with your presence as we mark a terrible chapter in our nation’s history, but the U.S.-Israel partnership that is demonstrated by your presence, also is a source of great strength. Mrs. Netanyahu, thank you for being here as well.

We are proud to be here with photographer Robby Berman and with Rafael Aldor and Isaac Weiss from the Jerusalem House of Quality, and to help in making these rare and powerful photographs available for all to see.

Ten years ago on September 11, 2001, almost to the exact minute, nearly 3,000 people, Americans and citizens of other countries, going about their daily lives perished in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania.

It was a devastating blow, which has left a void in the lives of the families who lost their loved ones that can never be filled. And all Americans, however they experienced those agonizing moments, were wounded and changed forever. I just came from a memorial ceremony where we paid tribute to those we lost.

But now, at the beginning of a new decade, in addition to the pain we still feel, our message is one of hope and renewal. Ten years ago we might have looked at Robby’s photographs and registered only the devastation, destruction, smoke and fire.

Now that the dust has settled, we can see more clearly what was always there: remarkable pictures of human dignity and strength and the power of communities to grow again literally out of the ashes of ground zero.

Today we are comforted with the knowledge that we did not allow these attacks and the threat of terror to permanently take over our streets and buildings, places of worship, schools and homes, the infrastructure of day-to-day life and community. We are more resilient and we value life.

The portraits of the firemen, some of whom subsequently lost their lives, serve as living testimony to the courage and selflessness, the triumph of the human spirit.

They present us with the face of heroism, the human response to inhuman acts of terrorism. Etched in the soot and dirt of their faces we see the hope and courage of the human spirit shining through.

Time has endowed these images with a new quality and deposited in the collective consciousness of the international community robust, life-affirming images. I speak of human bravery, of resilient communities which band together and help each other in times of need.

Recent visitors to Ground Zero in New York will tell you that the place is a hub of activity and construction, a testimony to the irrepressible tendency of the human spirit to regenerate itself, rebuild what was destroyed and restore life.

9/11 is also a chance to pay tribute to a generation that has borne the burden for our security during a decade of war. Hundreds of thousands of our troops have served in war zones, deploying more than 2.5 million times, and 6,200 Americans have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many others have been grievously wounded.

These brave men and women of the 9/11 Generation are all volunteers who chose to serve in a time of war. They have upheld the virtues of service, sacrifice and selflessness that have always been the source of America’s strength.

And we know that as we remain resilient, we share common experiences with communities all over the world who have suffered from acts of terror. Communities who, like us, have got back up on their feet and rebuilt what they have lost.

Following recent terror attacks here in Israel, I visited some of those wounded in the recent rocket and missile attacks in the south of Israel.

I went to Ashdod and saw buildings riddled with shrapmetal from rocket attacks. Children were playing and studying inside.

In my short time here as United States Ambassador, I have seen firsthand the resilience of Israeli society affected by terror.
Even under attack, people in this country get up and resume their lives in the morning. They send their children to school – the same children who have spent the night in bomb shelters – they go to work, rebuild their homes, schools and places of worship and project something called “business as usual.”
These brave Israelis underscore the endurance and determination of this country.
Since 9/11, extraordinary efforts have been taken to keep America safe – by first responders and state and local authorities; law enforcement and the intelligence community; and diplomats and troops overseas.

And, as we are building new international partnerships and deepening our core alliances. And the U.S.-Israel relationship continues to grow and deepen.
The United States is proud of its extensive military and security cooperation with Israel, which benefits both our countries, and remains steadfast in its commitment to help ensure the security of the people and state of Israel.

The last ten years have shown us that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is stronger than violence. In their daily lives and activities, Israelis and Americans alike demonstrate time and again that democracy and civic engagement far outweigh random, senseless acts of terror.

וברשותכם אני אוסיף כמה מילים בעברית. בשבילי ובשביל העמיתים שלי והאזרחים האמריקאים האחרים כאן, יש זכות גדולה לזכור את ההתקפות של 11-לספטמבר בישראל. לדעתי, בכל העולם, אין עם שמבין את הכאב שלנו ואין עם שיכול לעזור לנו להמשיך לחיות ולבנות מחדש יותר מעם ישראל. בזמנים קשים וכבדים, הקשר המוסרי בינינו מחזק את שנינו.

To repeat in English: For me and for my colleagues and the other Americans here, there is a great privilege to remember the September 11 attacks in Israel.

In my opinion, in the whole world, there is no people who understands our pain and no people who can help us continue to live and to rebuild more than the people of Israel. In difficult times, the moral bond between us strengthens both of us.

The human impetus to life overcomes the pain caused by death and destruction. I feel honored to be here in Israel at the dawning of the new decade after 9/11 to move forward with you in all your endeavors as a community, as a people, as a nation.

Thank you for sharing this day with us.