30. Never Forget

The following is a transcript of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s speech to the United Nations.


On September 11, 2001, New York City, the most diverse city in the world, was viciously attacked in an unprovoked act of war. More than 5,000 innocent men, women and children of every race, religion and ethnicity are lost. Among these were people from 80 different nations.

To their representatives here today, I offer my condolences to you as well on behalf of all New Yorkers who share this lost with you.

This was the deadliest terrorist attack in history. It claimed more lives than Pearl Harbor or D-Day. This was not just an attack on the city of New York or on the United States of America. It was an the attack of the very idea of a free, inclusive and civil society. It was a direct assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself.

The preamble to the U.N. charter states that this organization exists to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights in the dignity and worth of the human person, to practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbors, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

Indeed, this vicious attack places in jeopardy the whole purpose of the United Nations. Terrorism is based on the persistent and deliberate violation of fundamental human rights. With bullets and bombs and now with hijacked airplanes, terrorists deny the dignity of human life. Terrorism preys particularly on cultures and communities that practice openness and tolerance. Their targeting of innocent civilians mocks the efforts of those who seek to live together in peace as neighbors; it defies the very notion of being a neighbor.

This massive attack was intended to break our spirit; it has not done that. It’s made us stronger, more determined and more resolved. The bravery of our firefighters, our police officers, our emergency workers, and civilians, we may never learn of, in saving over 25,000 lives that day and carrying out the most effective rescue operation in our history, inspires all of us.

I’m very honored to have with me as their representatives, the fire commissioner of New York City, Tom Von Essen.

Tom, please stand up.

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