My fellow New Yorkers:
On Sept. 11, the forces of
hatred and barbarism attacked this city with cruelty and madness beyond our
comprehension. In the hours and days since, it has been my privilege and honor
to represent the unflagging spirit of New York. I have witnessed firsthand acts
of heroism and selflessness that will inspire men and women of good will for
generations. I have tried, as best I can, to give comfort to the grieving, hope
to the frightened and faith to the despondent.
I have done nothing heroic. I
have done what I believe any Mayor would have done in similar circumstances.
The men and women who died trying to save others, who risked their lives trying
to find survivors, who worked for days and weeks at a time in the search and
recovery effort-they are our heroes. They served their city above and beyond
the call of duty. They deserve our undying admiration and love-not just today,
not just next year, but as long as New York remains what it has been for
decades and still is today, even in its wounded state: a symbol of hope and
liberty throughout the world, a place of noble aspiration, common decency and
In the days following the
atrocity of Sept. 11, some well-meaning people-good New Yorkers-have suggested
that we suspend or rewrite our election laws to give me a chance to run for a
third term. Others have proposed that we delay the inauguration of a new Mayor
while we begin the long process of rebuilding downtown.
I have no words to describe
how these flattering, though
undeserved, words have lifted my spirit. More than a year ago, when I announced
that I had prostate cancer, I spoke about the enduring power of love. And now,
in this terrible trial for all of us, I have seen the love New Yorkers have for
their city and for those who answer the call to public service.
So you will excuse me, I hope,
if I take this opportunity to return the embrace of so many New Yorkers who
have wished me well. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I know that
together we will rebuild our city, remember our fallen and share our hearts
with the children, spouses and parents of those who died on Sept. 11.
I pledge to you tonight that I
will do everything in my power to make New York whole again. But beginning on
Jan. 1, I will do so as a private citizen, which, as Harry Truman once reminded
us, is the greatest title anyone can hold in a democracy.
The atrocity of Sept. 11 was
designed not only to kill the innocent and shatter our spirit, but to mock our
values, our freedoms and the rule of law itself. Nothing, other than continued
mass murder, would give our enemies greater comfort than to see this great city
reduced to panic and confusion, to see well-intentioned but misguided people
rushing to change our laws because we are terrified of the future. Our enemies
believe in dictates; we believe in elections. They trade on fear; we are
fearless. They despise civil society; we are a civil society. If we surrendered
to our fears-which, of course, we will not-we would betray our heritage and
besmirch our reputations. We would cease to be great. We would cease to be
I would have enjoyed the
challenge of running for another term, and would have campaigned hard and with
purpose. I believe I would have had a great deal to say about the future, about
the way we will overcome this terrible wound. But the law commands that I
retire from office at midnight on Dec. 31, and so I shall.
Let me say something about the
men who are running for Mayor today. Mark Green, Fernando Ferrer and Michael
Bloomberg are outstanding New Yorkers who have important contributions to make
as we discuss the future of the city they love. Their experience and wisdom are
unquestioned. While I do not agree with everything they say, I admire their
civic patriotism, their determination to lead New York to a better day, and
their willingness to work hard on behalf of us all. One of these three men will
be your next Mayor beginning Jan. 1. That man will have my full cooperation
during the transition from Election Day to New Year’s Day.
Tonight, I ask my friends to
pledge that they will work together with my successor in the difficult tasks
ahead. And I ask all of you to defy our enemies by exercising your right to
vote in the runoff and the general election.
Winston Churchill exhorted Britons in 1940 to do their duty and
bear themselves with honor and courage. Tonight I ask the same of you, so that
generations unborn will note that in this hour of grief and tragedy, we were at