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Remarks at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania

September 11, 1998

Bishop Haines, Dean Baxter, Reverend Jackson, clergy; Vice President and Mrs. Gore, Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Janet, Secretary Shalala; to the Members of Congress; our military service; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, especially those from Kenya and Tanzania. Most of all, to the members of the families, friends, and colleagues of the deceased; the survivors of the attacks; Ambassador Bushnell and Charge Lange; my fellow Americans.

Today we are gathered in a truly sacred and historic place to honor and to celebrate the lives of 12 Americans who perished in service to our Nation—their goodness, their warmth, their humanity, and their sacrifice. The two sides of their lives—who they were in their labors and who they were as husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues—came together. For as they showed every day in their devotion to family and friends, their work was about bringing better lives to all.

They worked to create opportunity and hope, to fight poverty and disease, to bridge divides between peoples and nations, to promote tolerance and peace. They expressed both their patriotism and their humanity, as Adlai Stevenson so well put it, "in the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."

In the book of Isaiah it is written that the Lord called out, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And Isaiah, the prophet, answered, "Here am I, Lord; send me." These Americans, generous, adventurous, brave souls, said, "Send me. Send me in service. Send me to build a better tomorrow." And on their journey they perished, together with proud sons and daughters of Kenya and Tanzania.

Some of the Kenyans and Tanzanians worked alongside our Americans at our Embassies, making vital contributions. Others were simply, unfortunately, nearby, working or studying, providing for their loved ones, doing what they do and did every day. For those people, too, we mourn, we honor, we thank God for their lives.

All of them were taken too soon, leaving behind families, many including young children, and devoted friends and colleagues. No tribute from us can rouse them from a long night of mourning. That takes time and the mysterious workings of the heart. But surely some comfort comes with the memory of the happiness they brought, the difference they made, the goodness they left inside those whom they loved and touched.

Last month at Andrews Air Force Base, Hillary and I walked out into the hangar that day to meet the families and share with them the homecoming of their loved ones for the last time. There we saw a larger family, many standing and pressed together, people from the State and Defense Departments, from our military, from AID and the CDC. They, too, lost brothers and sisters. They, too, must be immensely proud of their friends, the traditions, the accomplishments, the life they shared.

All of us must stand together with our friends from Kenya and Tanzania and other peaceloving nations—yes, in grief, but also in common commitment to carry on the cause of peace and freedom, to find those responsible and bring them to justice, not to rest as long as terrorists plot to take more innocent lives, and in the end, to convince people the world over that there is a better way of living than killing others for what you cannot have today. For our larger struggle, for hope over hatred and unity over division, is a just one. And with God's help, it will prevail. We owe to those who have given their lives in the service of America and its ideal to continue that struggle most of all.

In their honor, let us commit to open our hearts with generosity and understanding; to treat others who are different with respect and kindness; to hold fast to our loved ones; and always to work for justice, tolerance, freedom, and peace.

May God be with their souls.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:12 p.m. at the Washington National Cathedral. In his remarks, he referred to Bishop Ronald H. Haines and Dean Nathan Baxter, Washington National Cathedral; civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson; Janet Langhart, wife of Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen; Prudence Bushnell, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya; and John E. Lange, U.S. Charge d'Affairs, Tanzania.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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