Norfolk Ceremony Memorializes 17 Sailors Killed in Attack on USS Cole

The search for the perpetrators will be unending, Clinton says By Wendy S. Ross Washington File Staff Writer Washington -- The United States will find the perpetrators of the October 12 terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen that killed some 17 U.S. sailors and injured many others, President Clinton and top U.S. military officials say. Speaking October 18 at a moving memorial ceremony at Virginia's Norfolk Naval Base, home port of the USS Cole, Clinton said: "To those who attacked them we say, you will not find a safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail. America will not stop standing guard for peace or freedom or stability in the Middle East and around the world." Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen said: "To those who organized and orchestrated this barbarous act, you are on notice that our search for you will be relentless, that America will not rest until we find you and the long arm of justice reaches out, however long, however far, and makes you pay for this crime." And General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned those "who perpetrated this act of terror," that "America's memory is long and our reach longer." The memorial service was held at the Naval Station's Pier 12. Nearby were two of the Cole's sister ships, the destroyers USS Ross and USS McFaul, flanked by the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Several thousand people -- including seven wounded sailors in wheelchairs -- attended the service. Hundreds of U.S. sailors stood at attention on the decks of the nearby ships, as Clinton and top U.S. military officials spoke. "All these very different Americans, all with their different stories, their life lines and their love ties, answered the same call of service and found themselves on the USS Cole headed for the Persian Gulf where our forces are working to keep peace and stability in a region that could explode and disrupt the entire world," Clinton said. Reading aloud the name of each of the deceased sailors, Clinton said: "In the names and faces of those we lost and mourn, the world sees our nation's greatest strength -- people in uniform rooted in every race, creed and region on the face of the Earth, yet bound together by a common commitment to freedom, and a common pride in being Americans. That same spirit is living today as the crew of the USS Cole pulls together in a determined struggle to keep the determined warrior afloat. "The idea of common humanity and unity amidst diversity, so purely embodied by those we mourn today, must surely confound the minds of the hate-filled terrorists who killed them," Clinton said. "They envy our strength without understanding the values that give us strength, for, for them, it is their way or no way: their interpretation, twisted though it may be, of a beautiful religious tradition; their political views; their racial and ethnic views -- their way or no way. "Such people can take innocent life. They have caused your tears and anguish, but they can never heal or build harmony or bring people together. That is work only free, law-abiding people can do; people like the sailors of the USS Cole." Also attending the ceremony were First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, and the Clinton's daughter Chelsea. Before and after the service, Clinton met privately with the injured sailors, and visited with family members of the dead and missing sailors, pausing to spend a few minutes with each family. (The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: