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We come to this historic church at this noon hour to remember the innocent victims of Tuesdays attack on our nation. Thousands of parents lost their children; and thousands of children lost their parents.
So it is in these times that we turn to each other and to our faith. Here in Boston, throughout our Commonwealth, and around the nation, Americans are uniting to share their grief and to ask those questions that only the divine and history may be able to answer.
Perhaps we will find some quiet comfort, a shred of understanding, or at the very least, a few moments of peace. But peace of mind seems too much to ask right now; too much when we consider what our fellow Americans endured on Tuesday and what their families will endure in the days to come.
For them we offer prayers. We pledge our unflagging support. And we rededicate ourselves to the values and beliefs that make this the greatest nation on Earth.
Part of that rededication is reminding each other and ourselves that diversity is our most important asset. Intolerance is repugnant to our way of life. We must not in anger turn on our neighbors of a different skin color or a different faith or a different place of birth. There is no heroism or patriotism in such acts, just a cowardice that reopens the wounds of this and other tragedies.
Instead, we must focus our energies on the renewal of our communities and of our spirits. We will follow Lincolns advice at Gettysburg and take from our honored dead increased devotion. With their example, our nation will once again "have a new birth of freedom" and despite the terror and despite our pain, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
In the extraordinary sadness of the past few days, I have witnessed extraordinary compassion and bravery. And I have had the privilege of working with the outstanding public safety, law enforcement, and emergency management officials who continue to keep Massachusetts safe and secure. We owe them a large debt of gratitude for their remarkable efforts.
In the coming days, we will hear more stories of people taking amazing risks for the sake of others. There will be small miracles, and perhaps even large ones.
One thing I know for certain: Our democracy is stronger than it was three days ago. Cowardly acts of terrorism are no match for the resolve of the American people. We remain the worlds beacon of freedom and liberty, a beacon lit right here in Old North Church. America is still that shining city upon a hill.
We have passed this test, and we will pass those to come. Let us keep in mind that we are not alone. In the book of Joshua, God assures us of this and encourages us to move forward. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
God bless the Commonwealth and God bless the United States of America.
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