The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Patricia Butenis said the Sri Lankans have shown unbelievable resilience in the face of decades long terrorism in the country.
Speaking at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States yestedray, the Ambassador said intolerance and extremism remain a threat across the world and no country is immune to these dangers.
Ms. Butenis held a memorial service at her residence to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 with the participation of religious leaders from several faiths practiced in Sri Lanka.
The Ambassador said a terrible day in American history, however, brought out the best in Americans.
“Al-Qaida’s attack on our symbolic buildings was an attempt to destroy our spirit and our way of life. But those attacks failed because of the resilience of the survivors,” Ms. Butenis pointed out.
Commenting on Sri Lanka’s decades long fight against terrorism, the Ambassador said “many innocent people lost their lives over the past three decades of conflict in this country, killed not by foreign attackers but by fellow citizens, sometimes from different communities, sometimes by their own communities.”
“Sri Lankans as individuals have shown unbelievable resilience, just by struggling to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and getting on with the business of daily life,” she said.
Looking forward, the Ambassador said her deepest wish for Sri Lanka as a country is that it continue to embrace one of its traditional, essential core values, that of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious identity.
“That is its true strength and the country must be resilient enough to hold on to it,” Ambassador Butenis pronounced.
At the commemoration ceremony Embassy staff gathered with invited guests to hear a speech by Ambassador Butenis followed by prayers for the victims by an Anglican priest, a Buddhist monk, a Hindu priest, a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim imam, and a Roman Catholic priest.
Ambassador Butenis also said of nearly 3,000 people from over 90 countries was a Sri Lankan. “Rahma Salie was of Sri Lankan descent, raised in Japan and married to a Greek-American. She and her husband were flying to a wedding, and Rahma was seven months pregnant with their first child when their plane from Boston was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Centre.”
Ambassador Butenis turned her attention towards the future and shared a message praising the resilience of the victims of terrorists both in the U.S. and Sri Lanka. “My deepest wish for Sri Lanka as a country is that it continues to embrace one of its traditional, essential core values, that of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious identity. That is its true strength and the country must be resilient enough to hold on to it.” Distinguished guests present at the ceremony included Ministry of External Affairs Director General for Europe, Americas and CIS, Himali Arunathilaka.