This morning we had a very emotional dedication of an exhibit outside the Embassy here in Ottawa of photos that were taken after 9/11 showing the outpouring of support by the Canadian people toward their friends in the United States.
At that time, I was a lawyer in Chicago with no particular relationship with Canada. But I remember well learning of the warmth of the Canadian people during those dark days. Here in Ottawa at the Embassy when people placed flowers, notes, and candles against the Embassy wall. On Parliament Hill where 100,000 people gathered to show their support. In Gander, St. Johns, Halifax, Vancouver, and elsewhere where Canadians took in our planes and cared for our citizens when U.S. airspace was closed. In the individual acts of human kindnesses at a time when humanity was in short supply. For that and so much more, the American people will be eternally grateful.
What follows are the remarks I gave this morning as well as the photos which will remain in front of the Embassy for the next couple of weeks. They express my emotions – and I believe the emotions of most Americans – as we reflect on the events of 9/11 and the last 10 years.
Ambassador Jacobson’s Remarks at U.S. Embassy, Ottawa Ceremony to Unveil: “Thank you, Canada: A 9/11 Commemorative Photo Exhibit”
September 2, 1011
As prepared for delivery.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, as word spread, and as what at first seemed unthinkable and unimaginable turned into tragic fact, people began arriving outside the Embassy. Some came alone; others came with friends and family.
In the dark hours that followed the events on that bright September morning, there was nothing the people here in Ottawa could do. But all the same, so many found that they just couldn’t do nothing.
So they came. Theirs was a simple act, spontaneous and gracious.
Along the length of this building, along this historic street, Canadians placed bouquets of flowers. They left candles, red, white and blue balloons, stuffed animals, drawings by children and the heartfelt words of men and women inscribed on homemade cards – words of sorrow and elegy, words of support and of resolve.
On its own, each act was an intimate gesture of sympathy. Taken together, they became a powerful symbol of solidarity.
To walk past this display of compassion was to know that in our moment of tragedy, the citizens of the United States were not alone.
We’re sometimes defined by our differences: our different ideas and ideals, our different beliefs, different nationalities, and our different loves and passions. But in the hours and in the days that followed the 9/11 attacks, those differences somehow paled.
Suddenly we all stood together – across a common border – to confront evil and to share our humanity.
The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will be a time of solemn remembrance for the families who knew loss on that day: for the survivors, for those who toiled at rescue and recovery, and for the whole of my country, from whom a decade’s passage has done little to erase the shock and the horror of that morning.
But it will also be a time to commemorate the bonds we share with our friends and with those who stood with the people of the United States, a time to remind the world of our gratitude and how much those simple gestures meant. And a time to celebrate the spirit of resilience and defiance that was born at Ground Zero, which spread here to Sussex Drive, and then on around the world.
It was Emerson, that great American writer and philosopher, who said: “We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken.”
In the days that followed Sept 11th, 2001, the kindness of Canadians was heard as loud as any, as loud as ever.
We value our friendship not only with Canada but with you, the Canadian people. We honor that friendship with this exhibition. It’s our own simple gesture to those who walked alongside us as we made our way through the dark.