2000-10/25 President of the United States REMARKS AT USS COLE MEMORIAL SERVICE
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                 October 25, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                                  Pier 12
                             Norfolk, Virginia

11:38 A.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Secretary Cohen; General Reno; Secretary Danzig;
General Shelton; distinguished Members of the Senate and House; Governor;
Admiral Clark; Admiral Natter; Chaplain Black, Master Chief Herdt; Master
Chief Hefty; the sailors of the USS Cole; the family members and friends;
the Norfolk Naval community; my fellow Americans.

     Today, we honor our finest young people; fallen soldiers who rose to
freedom's challenge.  We mourn their loss, celebrate their lives, offer the
love and prayers of a grateful nation to their families.

     For those of us who have to speak here, we are all mindful of the
limits of our poor words to lift your spirits or warm your hearts.  We know
that God has given us the gift of reaching our middle years.  And we now
have to pray for your children, your husbands, your wives, your brothers,
your sisters, who were taken so young.  We know we will never know them as
you did or remember them as you will; the first time you saw them in
uniform, or the last time you said goodbye.

     They all had their own stories and their own dreams.  We Americans
have learned something about each and every one of them over these last
difficult days as their profiles, their lives, their loves, their service,
have been given to us.  For me, I learned a little more when I met with all
the families this morning.

     Some follow the family tradition of Navy service; others hoped to use
their service to earn a college degree.  One of them had even worked for me
in the White House.  Richard Costelow was a technology wizard who helped to
update the White House communications system for this new century.

     All these very different Americans, all with their different stories,
their lifelines and love ties, answered the same call of service and found
themselves on the USS Cole, headed for the Persian Gulf, where our forces
are working to keep peace and stability in a region that could explode and
disrupt the entire world.

     Their tragic loss reminds us that even when America is not at war, the
men and women of our military still risk their lives for peace.  I am quite
sure history will record in great detail our triumphs in battle, but I
regret that no one will ever be able to write a full account of the wars we
never fought, the losses we never suffered, the tears we never shed because
men and women like those who were on the USS Cole were standing guard for
peace.  We should never, ever forget that.

     Today, I ask all Americans just to take a moment to thank the men and
women of our Armed Forces for a debt we can never repay, whose character
and courage, more than even modern weapons, makes our military the
strongest in the world.  And in particular, I ask us to thank God today for
the lives, the character and courage of the crew of the USS Cole, including
the wounded and especially those we lost or are missing:

     Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter;
Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer First Class Richard Costelow;
Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis;  Information
Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna;  Signalman Seaman Apprentice
Cheron Louis Gunn;  Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels;  Engineman Second Class
Mark Ian Nieto;  Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott
Owens;  Seaman Apprentice Lakiba Nicole Palmer.  Engine Fireman Joshua
Langdon Parlett;  Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy;  Electronics
Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux;  Mess Management
Specialist Third Class Ronchester Managan Santiago;  Operations Specialist
Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders;  Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, Jr;
Ensign Andrew Triplett; Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley.
     In the names and faces of those we lost and mourn, the world sees our
nation's greatest strength.  People in uniform rooted in every race, creed
and region on the face of the earth; yet, bound together by a common
commitment to freedom and a common pride in being American.  That same
spirit is living today as the crew of the USS Cole pulls together in a
determined struggle to keep the determined warrior afloat.

     The idea of common humanity and unity amidst diversity, so purely
embodied by those we mourn today, must surely confound the minds of the
hate-filled terrorists who killed them.  They envy our strength without
understanding the values that give us strength.  For, for them, it is their
way or no way.  Their interpretation, twisted though it may be, of a
beautiful religious tradition.  Their political views, their racial and
ethnic views.  Their way or no way.

     Such people can take innocent life.  They have caused your tears and
anguish, but they can never heal, or build harmony, or bring people
together.  That is work only free, law-abiding people can do.  People like
the sailors of the USS Cole.

     To those who attacked them, we say:  you will not find a safe harbor.
We will find you, and justice will prevail.  America will not stop standing
guard for peace or freedom or stability in the Middle East and around the

     But some way, someday, people must learn the lesson of the lives of
those we mourn today, of how they worked together, of how they lived
together, of how they reached across all the lines that divided them and
embraced their common humanity and the common values of freedom and

     Not far from here, there is a quiet place that honors those who gave
their lives in service to our country.  Adorning its entrance are words
from a poem by Archibald Macleish; not only a tribute to the young we lost,
but a summons to those of us left behind.  Listen to them.  The young no
longer speak, but:

     They have a silence that speaks for them at night.
     They say:  we were young, remember us.
     They say:  we have done what we could, but until it is finished, it is
not done.
     They say:  our deaths are not ours; they are yours; they will mean
what you make them.
     They say:  whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new
hope, we cannot say; it is you who must say this.
     They say:  we leave your our deaths.  Give them their meaning.

     The lives of the men and women we lost on the USS Cole meant so much
to those who loved them, to all Americans, to the cause of freedom.  They
have given us their deaths.  Let us give them their meaning.  Their meaning
of peace and freedom, of reconciliation and love, of service, endurance and
hope.  After all they have given us, we must give them their meaning.

     I ask now that you join me in a moment of silence and prayer for the
lost, the missing, and their grieving families.

     (A moment of silence is observed.)

     Amen.  Thank you, and may God bless you all.

                      END         11:49 A.M. EDT

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