The Speech He Didn’t Give

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

uncommon courage.

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

our finest.

The Speech He Didn’t Give