Rahall: First Responders Build Safer, More Secure America

BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) called on West Virginians to remember their fellow Americans who were lost in the September 11 attacks on our nation during the Raleigh County First Responder Memorial dedication ceremony on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at Word Park Uptown Beckley.

On this tenth anniversary, we are reminded of the overwhelming sense of sadness and vulnerability we felt as Americans on that terrible day, but we also must remember the renewed feeling of pride in the weeks and months that followed,” said Rahall.  “This anniversary, we will rightly reflect upon all that we lost on that fateful day and in its aftermath, but also upon the coming together of our Nation in a united purpose.”

Below are Rahall’s remarks as prepared for delivery – Raleigh County First Responder Memorial Dedication

Thank you for inviting me to join you as we remember and celebrate the lives of so many good people.  That we have chosen to honor and dedicate a lasting memorial to those first responders lost on 9/11 – brothers and sisters in the same cause who we never knew – rekindles the national unity the attacks ten years ago helped to bring forth. 

With all the squabbling that a democracy brings to the table, we sometimes forget too quickly that the right to speak our piece and worship as we chose,  to be safe  and secure in our homes and businesses, often comes at a high price – and, all too often, at the ultimate price.  Today, reminds us that we are strongest, when we are one as a nation.  Our faith in knowing we can count on one another is, after all, the strength of America.        

Many times in the last decade, Rev. Wagoner, the words from the old hymn, “Faith of our Fathers,” have crossed through my mind.  “Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword; Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy. Whenever we hear that glorious Word!” 

The longer I live, the more I become convinced that every time our faith is tested – as well as our American Spirit, rooted in and molded by the principles of Scripture – we not only endure, we prevail with a stronger faith in God and country.

Across the country our first responders daily put that faith to work building a safer, more secure country. Your constant vigil over our community’s safekeeping is something we can never thank you for enough.

What may be a once in a lifetime threat of tragedy and terror in our lives is all too commonplace in your line of work. 

And as strong as your dedication is to us, it is difficult to match the devotion of your families to you.  Their worries about you and your safekeeping are likely more than any of us know.   Dedications, like today’s, give us a chance to recognize your loved ones, and their tremendous contributions of love and support.  We thank you all.

Today, we dedicate a memorial to honor the valiant and courageous acts of selfless sacrifice made by so many in the line of duty.  

The countless feats of bravery by our first responders are bound together in the countless grains in this beautiful block of granite.  It is a fitting foundation to support the steel beam that once held together a working symbol of our nation’s economy, the World Trade Center’s twin tower.

As those two towers fell, our Nation rose as one – to new heights of unity, commitment and purpose.  First and foremost, were the lessons learned about what our Nation could and should do to keep you, our first responders, able to do your jobs and accomplish your missions – like being able to talk with one another.

We have made strides with emergency communications in Raleigh County.  We have with us today representatives from nine law enforcement departments, 14 fire departments and three ambulance services – all those from just one county.  Now, multiply that number across the nation and you will get an idea of the scope of the task before our entire Nation.

And, indeed, it is our Nation, our federal government’s role, to assist in fulfilling this commitment to you.   The federal role in funding and meeting your technology and communications needs must not be thrown on the scrap heap of history by those too shortsighted to see its long-term importance to our Nation’s security. 

Know too, that our Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin share my commitment in this.  As a nation, we have more work to do.

So let us dedicate this sober reminder of the past sacrifices of 9/11 and of all those here in our own county.  Let us enshrine their memories in the eternity of steel and stone.  Here, let us boldly inscribe the hero’s tribute upon this memorial with the words, “we will never forget.”

But let us also never forget that those who were lost should not be lost in vain; that they deserve our increased dedication to their cause that lives on in each of us – embodied in the American Spirit and the faith of our fathers.

And that with every ounce of energy and muscle we can muster, let us work together as one Nation, under God, to ensure the American Spirit is faithfully passed on to those American generations yet born

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