On a cool Fall morning similar to the one when terrorists attacked America, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and hundreds of White House staff today gathered on the South Lawn of the White House for a moment of silence to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
At 8:46 AM, about the time American Airlines Flight #11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001, a full Marine color guard emerged from the doors of the North Portico, taking up a place on each side of a wide aisle left for the President and First Lady. They walked slowly down the grassy strip, the President in a dark suit, the First Lady in a dark purple dress, as three bells tolled. They stood with heads bowed, facing the National Mall in the distance. Taps was played, and the President and Mrs. Obama listened, their hands over their hearts, as did staff.
The President and Mrs. Obama departed a short while later for the Pentagon Memorial to attend the September 11th Observance Ceremony, where the President honored those who died there, as well as the victims in New York and Pennsylvania.
"This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn. Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire," the President said.
"We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred. We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.
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.
So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are. 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.
That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today. And that’s why, when the history books are written, 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."
In the afternoon, the President will visit with Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
*Photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House