ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, 14 August 1998 (RFE/RL) -- "Every person here today would pray not to be here," U.S. President Bill Clinton said. He paused and added: "But we could not be anywhere else."
The President, his face drawn and grim, stood at a lectern yesterday in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. Moments earlier honor guards from the U.S. Armed Forces -- sailors, soldiers and airmen in immaculate uniforms -- had borne the caskets of ten American dead to a rank of gleaming black hearses in the building.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had flown yesterday to a U.S. air base in Germany to accompany home the bodies of ten of the Americans killed last week by a terrorist bomb blast at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
Thousands of people, including dignitaries from Kenya and Tanzania, attended the ceremony, which also was broadcast nationwide on television.
There actually were 12 hearses. Two empty hearses represented one victim who was buried in Kenya, her husband's home, and another whose body was returned earlier at the family's request.
After a prayer by a Chaplain (Army Colonel) Joseph O'Keefe, Defense Secretary William Cohen, Albright, and Clinton spoke.
Clinton said: "We must honor the memory of those we mourn today by pressing the cause of freedom and justice for which they lived." He repeated his pledge to do all possible to apprehend those responsible for bombing U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last week.
Clinton and Albright reminded those present and watching on television that many more Kenyans and Tanzanians were killed and injured in nearly simultaneous bombings at their countries' U.S. embassies. The toll so far in both nations is 257 dead and thousands injured. Clinton thanked Kenyan and Tanzanian representatives who attended the memorial.
Both Clinton and Albright spoke special words of condolence to the family members of the dead Americans -- diplomats, military personnel, clerks and a physician.
Near the front was the family of Julian Bartley, the U.S. consul general in Nairobi, and his son, Jay, 20, who had been a summer intern at the embassy. They both died in the blast.
Clinton also said this:
"We must continue to stand strong for freedom on every continent. Americans will not retreat from the world and all its promise, nor shrink from our responsibility to stand against terror and with the friends of freedom everywhere."
In Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, scores of agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation scoured the bombing sites and sat in with local police on interrogations of possible witnesses or suspects.
Attorney General Janet Reno, the top U.S. legal officer, told a regular press brief yesterday in Washington that FBI investigators have been successful in finding and prosecuting terrorists around the world, although some long-standing investigations remain open.
"I am convinced that this nation's law enforcement capability, everybody working together, can get the job (of apprehending terrorists) done. I know one thing. They won't give up till they do," she said.
Asked what message she had for terrorists, Reno said this:
"I think the message that we send is (we) don't back down, (we) continue to do (our) duty around the world, (and we) continue to work with other nations of the world to ensure democracy, to ensure the rule of law, to ensure the protection of human rights."