17 March 2015
(Ambassador Barzun was at the unveiling of New York artist Miya Ando’s 9/11 artwork at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London. The artwork is made from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.)
(As prepared for delivery)
Ambassador Barzun: Peter, thank you for having this artwork commissioned, created and finally consecrated here today.
It was, I know, hard work and – let’s be honest – frustrating work.
But. Ultimately. It worked.
And for that I, the Embassy, and the entire American community in the UK is most grateful.
How great to see all you young people here.
I meet a lot of people about your age on my visits around the UK.
So far I have spoken with 6,000 students from 60 different sixth forms.
From Aberdeen to Brighton, from Cardiff to Canterbury.
I invite them to share what inspires them about the United States – but also what frustrates them.
And I see in each session how they, like you, while too young to remember 9/11 want to talk about the way it defines their world.
Security, privacy, where the U.S. and the UK should get involved around the world…when…and how.
We don’t always agree. We listen. We learn. We respect each other.
It was precisely this freedom and openness that was attacked on 9/11.
Look at this memorial.
It does not celebrate high ideals or cherished values.
It commemorates an attack on them.
It does not summon in us pleasure, but pain.
More than anything this steel – mangled and mauled though it is — represents resilience and renewal.
And it demands of us that we work hard every day, in our own way, often in small ways, to stand up for, to speak up for freedom and openness.
“What gives us hope,” as President Obama said at the 9/11 ceremony last year, “Is that it is these young people who will shape all the days to come.”