By CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden
Reminiscent of the national unity which followed the 9/11 attacks, a rare bipartisan embrace highlighted the 9/11 memorial tribute at the Justice Department Friday.
Members of Attorney General Eric Holder's team and a substantial delegation of GOP officials from former Attorney General John Ashcroft's administration joined to pay tribute to the victims and their families. The event also marked a celebration of the Justice Department and FBI efforts over 10 years to reform the nation's response to combating international terrorism.
There was no mention of the latest intelligence of a possible threat to New York or Washington, but it was the type of sketchy information which would not have made it onto U.S. radar screens a decade ago.
"The ground beneath our feet has shifted. We have changed but without violating our principles," said keynote speaker Theodore (Ted) Olson. "All in all, we've done pretty well," Olson concluded.
Olson, who was Solicitor General during the Ashcroft tenure, was in the Justice Department control center on 9/11 when a plane carrying his wife Barbara slammed into the Pentagon killing all those aboard. After a moving tribute to his late wife, Olson was applauded enthusiastically, and at length, by the crowd crammed into the ornate Great Hall at the Justice Department.
Also addressing the crowd was Carie Lemack whose mother had died in the first plane which crashed into the Twin Towers, and Abraham Scott whose wife worked at the Pentagon and perished in the terror attack there.
Their heartfelt remarks prompted hand-squeezing and hugs among rank and file Justice employees who were there to just to remember and pay tribute.