Secretary Napolitano's remarks at Oklahoma City bombing memorial

New interagency security standards for federal buildings and facilities, and FPS releases new risk assessment tool for their inspectors


The Department of Homeland Security released a copy of Secretary Napolitano's prepared remarks for the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, presented today in Oklahoma City at the outdoor symbolic memorial. The text of her remarks follows:

Secretary Napolitano: "Good morning. I am humbled to be here today to mark this solemn anniversary, and to honor the 168 lives taken from us, now 15 years ago in an unspeakable act of terrorism.

We honor the survivors, their friends, and family members, whose continued sense of hope, and strength of spirit, inspires us all.

We honor the first responders who risked their lives rushing into the Murrah Building in acts of selflessness reminiscent of those we’ve seen since—in the response to 9/11, after the Fort Hood shooting—and in daily acts of heroism that often don’t make the evening news.

We honor the continued need for vigilance against the hateful ideologies that led to this attack, so that we can recognize their signs in our communities and stand together to defeat them.

Above all, we remind ourselves that what defines us as a nation, as a people, and as communities, is not that we’ve suffered, but how we’ve risen above it—how we’ve overcome.

The history of Oklahoma City will not be written by this attack. As this memorial and museum attest, the history of this city and its people will be written by what came afterward, and by what’s yet to come; by the tremendous outpouring of community support that became known as the Oklahoma Standard; by the immense rescue and relief operation, which included support from over 12,000 federal, state, local, and community participants, including 665 FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] employees; by the difficult lessons learned about the need to steel our defenses against terrorism, and improve how we protect our country; and; by the unwavering determination to seek justice for the perpetrators of this crime.

Fifteen years ago, I was privileged to lead a portion of the criminal investigation into this attack as the U.S. Attorney for Arizona.

In Arizona alone, 150 agents were assigned to the case, and for a full six weeks we maintained a command post in Kingman to ensure that every legal tool available to us would be used to support the investigation.

I wish it were possible to stand here and say that threats from terrorism and violent extremism have gone away since then. We know that’s not the case.

Indeed, in the 15 years since this attack, the reality of terrorism has come home to us again. And our adversaries continue to look for ways to exploit our openness and take innocent lives.

Nor have we shed the reality of domestic violent extremism.

When FEMA, now part of the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], joined in the rescue effort here in 1995, my Department was still years from being formed.

Today, our first priority remains protecting against, and preventing, another terrorist attack on America. And we have learned from this tragedy by continuing to implement and refine the security standards and procedures developed since 1995.

In fact, this week the DHS-led Interagency Security Committee announced new security standards for all Federal buildings and facilities.

And our Federal Protective Service announced the broad deployment of a new risk assessment tool to help their inspectors keep more than 9,000 facilities secure.

We will continue to work day and night, and constantly ask ourselves if we’re doing everything we can to prevent another terrorist attack.

But making preparedness part of our culture will ultimately draw on the innovation and civic spirit of the American people. And our nation has never lacked for that.

We can’t put a dome over our country. We can’t guarantee there won’t be another attack. No one can.

But we are a strong, resilient country. And we can resolve that even a successful attack will not defeat our way of life.

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