Fire Service Assistant Area Commander Crawford
Christchurch City Councillors Lonsdale and Johanson
Chair of the Shirley Papanui Community Board Mike Davidson
Members of the American Club
Men and women of the emergency services
I will never forget September 11, 2001 – I was in Parliament back then and asleep in my flat in Wellington when my husband Rob rang me – it must have been between 2 and in the morning – he told me to switch on my television set and he started talking me through what I was seeing but not capable of comprehending.
The first plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade centre at 8.46am – just after quarter to one the following morning here in New Zealand – and the course of world history was changed forever.
Nearly 3000 people lost their lives that day and there would have been more, were it not for the bravery of passengers on board Flight 93.
Of those who died, just over 400 people were first responders, most of whom were New York City firefighters.
We remember all the acts of heroism associated with that day, but most of all we recall their courage and their willingness to give their lives in the service of the citizens of their city and their country.
In the aftermath of the attacks, thousands of volunteers rushed to New York to join the rescue and recovery efforts.
This spirit of compassion, of wanting to help, was something we saw in Christchurch after the earthquakes.
When the Fire Fighters' Games were held here in 2002, our city was deeply honoured to receive this unique memorial, gifted by the City of New York to honour all firefighters.
I found a quote from a New York firefighter, who said at the time "No matter where you are, whether it's New York, Australia, New Zealand, we're just a special breed of people. … it takes a lot to run in when everyone's running out!"
On this day, we remember all of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we honour all those who were prepared to run in and who made the ultimate sacrifice 15 years ago and we remember all those who protect and serve and have died in the line of duty.