President Barack Obama Tuesday offered his remembrances of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that changed the face of the nation.
Speaking at a memorial at the Pentagon, Obama remarked at the quiet similarities between this day and the one eleven years ago.
"Today we remember a day that began like so many others. There were rides to school and commutes to work, early flights and familiar routines, quick hugs and quiet moments," Obama said. "It was a day like this one -- a clear blue sky, but a sky that would soon be filled with clouds of smoke and prayers of a nation shaken to its core."
He added, "Even now, all these years later, it is easy for those of us who lived through that day to close our eyes and to find ourselves back there -- and back here -- back when grief crashed over us like an awful wave, when Americans everywhere held each other tight, seeking the reassurance that the world we knew wasn't crumbling under our feet."
While the day of remembrance is difficult for all Americans, Obama noted that it holds even more grief for those directly affected by the falling of the twin towers in New York City, the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, where Vice President Joe Biden will offer his own memorial.
"The rest of us cannot begin to imagine the pain you've endured these many years," Obama said. "We will never fully understand how difficult it has been for you to carry on, to summon that strength and to rebuild your lives."
He added, "Your loved ones will never be forgotten. They will endure in the hearts of our nation, because through their sacrifice, they helped us make the America we are today -- an America that has emerged even stronger."
Obama recalled how strange the attacks must have seemed all those years ago.
"Most of the Americans we lost that day had never considered the possibility that a small band of terrorists halfway around the world could do us such harm," the president said. "Most had never heard the name al Qaeda. And yet, it's because of their sacrifice that we've come together and dealt a crippling blow to the organization that brought evil to our shores."
He added, "Al Qaeda's leadership has been devastated and Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again. Our country is safer and our people are resilient."
Quoting the Bible, Obama said that the best way to honor those who died was through service and efforts to do good.
"This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn," he said. "And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father's eyes, and a daughter has her mother's laugh -- living reminders that those who died are with us still."
Obama said the day should also serve as a reminder that the nation cannot be brought low by a single event.
"No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess," he said. "That's the commitment that we reaffirm today."
He added, "The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before."
Obama earlier presided over a solemn ceremony on the south lawn of the White House, timed to coincide with the time the first airplane struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
Later in the day, he plans to visit wounded troops and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
by RTT Staff Writer
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