Austin made the prepared remarks at a Pentagon ceremony Saturday marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He continued, “We recall their common commitment to defend our republic … and to squarely face new dangers.”
Austin noted that “almost a quarter of the citizens who we defend today were born after 9/11,” including many of the 13 American service members killed in the recent attack in Afghanistan.
He says that “as the years march on, we must ensure that all our fellow Americans know and understand what happened here on 9/11 … and in Manhattan … and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.”
The Pentagon chief says that “it is our responsibility to remember. And it is our duty to defend our democracy.”
He says, “We cannot know what the next 20 years will bring. We cannot know what new dangers they will carry. … But we do know that America will always lead.”
And to the audience at the Pentagon commemoration, the defense secretary said, “We still work here. We still remember here. We still uphold our values here. With clear heads and fearless hearts.”