Press Releases

    12 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 11 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the address of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the annual interfaith service of commitment to the work of the United Nations in New York on 11 September:

    It was about this time of day, exactly a year ago, that most of us first heard that a plane had been flown into the World Trade Center. We did not yet know what sort of plane, or why. But today, all of us remember just where we were at that moment.

    I also remember very clearly where I was exactly two days later. It was here in this church, at this service.

    This was the first public engagement for me -- and, no doubt, for many others in New York -- and I was happy it was not cancelled after "9/11". I remember feeling very grateful, then, to the Interfaith Center, and to St. Bart’s. And I feel grateful again today.

    It was absolutely clear, as soon as one could think straight at all about that terrible disaster, that this service, so far from being ill-timed, had become much more relevant and meaningful.

    9/11 put all our faiths to the test.

    9/11 threw each of us back on our personal faith, as we struggled to make sense of what had happened, and to find the right response.

    9/11 made us look with new eyes at each other’s faiths.

    We sensed, very quickly, that the effect could be to fan the flames of mutual hatred, distrust and intolerance. And very likely, that was what the terrorists wanted.

    But almost in the same moment, we knew that that response must be resisted, and we resisted that response, firmly and promptly.

    We needed to come together.

    We needed to reaffirm our respect for each other, and for each other’s beliefs.

    We needed to listen to each other, with a greater effort to understand, and to share each other’s grief.

    In short, we needed to come here, to pray together. We still need to, today –- and here we are!

    Thank you all for being here.

    Thank you for your support of the United Nations and its work.

    May we carry out that work to the best of our abilities, for the benefit and mutual understanding of all humankind.

    May God bless and preserve us all.

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