To All -
We all remember exactly where we were 17 years ago, on that bright, sunny September morning, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. We all remember how we felt as that dark day wore on - and as the days and weeks and months passed thereafter.
That day - September 11, 2001 - is indelibly inked into our nation's history. It's part of who we are. In many ways, it has made us who we are. As a nation, as a society, and as everyday citizens, we're more vigilant and more aware of the threats we face. We're also stronger. We're more resilient. And yes, in spite of all of our differences, we're united in a common cause - to do everything we can to ensure we never have to live through another day like that again.
Like the rest of the country, the FBI was forever changed by September 11th. As an institution, we look back on where we were that day and on how much has changed since then. Today, the FBI is in a much different - and better - place. We've changed in ways that have made us more forward leaning, more collaborative, and more agile. There is no "status quo" for us. We've got to keep moving forward; we've got to evolve to meet ever-changing threats.
To do that, we've got to keep forging deep and lasting partnerships with our colleagues in law enforcement and in the intelligence community, and with our international counterparts. We've got to share intelligence and expertise. And we've got to stand together with the people we serve, with all of you - with community, civic, and religious leaders, CEOs and small business owners, teachers and students, and everyday citizens in neighborhoods big and small. We've all got to stand together so that we don't forget where we are today, and where we need to be in the years to come.
Seventeen years ago, first responders from every agency and every department, from every walk of life, poured into New York City. They showed up in Shanksville and at the Pentagon, ready and willing to help in any way they could. And it's only now that we're beginning to truly understand - and witness - the long-term effects of that work, and the full extent of the sacrifices all of our first responders made.
In just the past six months, I've attended the memorial services for three FBI special agents who served as first responders in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. We've lost 15 members of the FBI family due to 9/11-related illnesses. And we're by no means alone. Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, firefighting, and first response have suffered devastating losses. And we all fear there are more to come.
We grieve for the loss of our own, just as we grieve for all the first responders who made that sacrifice so long ago, without knowing what they would face down the road. These weren't just good people doing hard work. These were some of the best people, doing some of the most difficult and disheartening work imaginable. These men and women gave their all, even at the greatest cost.
We're not in the same place we were 17 years ago. But some things haven't changed. The men and women of the FBI are still willing to give everything to protect America's future and to fiercely safeguard the rule of law. They're still willing to walk into the line of fire, without knowing what may come. They're still willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own. That's what inspires me, every day.
It's what inspires everyone who works for the FBI - even those who were too young to remember September 11th. The essence of the FBI is a drive and passion for service that runs through every program, every squad, and every office. Every day of the year, we get the opportunity to protect people, to keep them safe from harm, so that folks can drive to work and drop their kids off at school and run errands, free of fear.
No work could be more important. No work could have higher stakes. And it's our privilege to be part of it.
Thank you for your friendship and support of the FBI, and for everything you do for our communities.
Chris Wray Director Federal Bureau of Investigation