Chief Rohrer's Remarks

Sept. 11, 2006
Prepared Remarks by Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer


Many in what Tom Brokaw called the “greatest generation” remember where they were and what they were doing on Dec. 7, 1941 as they learned of Pearl Harbor. 

And the same is true for many of us for Nov. 22, 1963, or even for the late morning of January 28, 1986, when the Challenger exploded.   

It is hard too for us to commemorate Sept. 11 without recalling vividly the haunting images, and exactly where we were or what we were doing that morning. 

The images of that day, our experiences, our emotional responses, our sense of helplessness, and the horrific losses shattered our innocence and stunned a nation.     

On Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3,000 persons perished, including 72 law enforcement officers and 343 fire and rescue workers.   

And let us not forget those who were injured, and those who lost their co-workers, friends, family members, and loved ones.  And we must not forget the continuing physical and emotional trauma still experienced by so many.     

And, let’s not forget our children.  Many of our young people have witnessed the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City; school violence such as Columbine; the repeated images of 9-11; the indiscriminate violence of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo; and even the devastation a year ago of Hurricane Katrina. 

We must help our children understand. 

Although this anniversary is one of tragedy, it is also an anniversary of triumph and hope.  Some in the world may mistakenly view a democracy as vulnerable.  But, democracy breeds strength and unity.   

The terrorists tested our will, and they found we only became more resolute in our commitment to our values, and to our democratic ideals and principles.

In fact, many responded that day, and in the days beyond with what President Franklin Roosevelt referred to in the context of his first Inaugural Address as the “warm courage of national unity.”

We must remain united in purpose and pursue, detect, and deter with all vigor those who would do us harm, because any failure to do so could be cataclysmic.     

But I would again caution that we must not blur our sense of patriotism with isolationism and extremism, or act with bias or prejudice.   

It is important that we honor and remember the victims of 9/11, and that we also remember the countless acts of devotion, courage, compassion, and empathydemonstrated by so many. 

I ask us to commemorate this anniversary with a renewed sense of purpose, commitment, and resolve.  And I challenge us, just as I did last year, to pursue: 

Courage and hope over fearfulness; responsibility over indifference; acceptance and tolerance over prejudice; understanding over ignorance; kindness over malice; and freedom over repression.

My vision continues to be one of peace, and as we remember the victims of 9/11, let us also remember those who serve and their sacrifice.  Let us look forward to the day when our men and women in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in harm’s way are able to complete their mission and return home and be united with their loved ones. 

Thank you.

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