Obama Says U.S. Is a Stronger Nation After 9/11 Attacks
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington -- President Obama led Americans in marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington, saying the perpetrators had failed to undermine the unity, character and values of the United States, and that Americans "refuse to live in fear."
Obama used his weekly address from the White House September 10 to tell Americans that a decade after the attacks, their country is stronger and that al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, "is on the path to defeat."
"We've shown that America doesn't hunker down and hide behind walls of mistrust. We've forged new partnerships with nations around the world to meet the global challenges that no nation can face alone. And across the Middle East and North Africa, a new generation of citizens is showing that the future belongs to those that want to build, not destroy," the president said.
On September 11, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were joined by former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a ceremony on the site of the World Trade Center, where family members and friends of those who were killed in the attacks read out the names of the victims and paid homage to their loved ones.
The president used to the occasion to read a passage from Psalm 46 from Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
"We will not fear, even though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though its waters roar and be troubled, and the mountains shake with its swelling," Obama said.
Former President Bush read from a letter President Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1864 to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, who had lost five sons in the American Civil War:
"I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save," Bush read to the audience. "I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."
Mayor Bloomberg described the day of the attacks as a time when "the morning turned into the blackest of nights."
"Since then, we've lived in sunshine and in shadow," he said. "And although we can never un-see what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born, and good works in public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost."
Following the memorial service in New York, the president attended a wreath-laying ceremony near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where passengers that were hijacked on Flight 93 and diverted toward Washington rose up against their captors and forced the plane to crash in a rural field rather than reach its intended target.
Vice President Biden spoke at the site of the crash September 10 with former President Bush and former President Bill Clinton where a memorial was dedicated to the passengers.
"None of them asked for what happened. They didn't ... board that plane to fight a war," Biden said. "But when they heard the news, when they found out what happened in New York, they knew that they were going through ... something more than a hijacking. They knew it was the opening shot in a new war."
The vice president quoted poet Maya Angelou, saying that despite the wrenching pain of history, it cannot be unlived, but "if faced with courage, need not be lived again."
"We are not here to unlive history. We are here to honor those whose courage made history and is going to inspire generations of Americans to come," he said.
"Know with certitude that there is not a single, solitary tragedy that America cannot overcome. There is not a single moment of hardship that cannot be transformed into one of national strength. The seeds of doubt, planted by those who wish to harm us, will instead grow into flowering meadows like this one where we stand in today," he said.
Speaking at the Pentagon on September 11 where American service members and passengers on Flight 77 died when their plane slammed into the building, Biden said al-Qaida and other extremists still fail to appreciate "the true source of American power," which is that "as Americans we draw our strength from the rich tapestry of the American people."
The perpetrators "never imagined that the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day would inspire 3 million to put on the uniform, and harden the resolve of 300 million Americans," he said.
Biden said the United States is marking the anniversary of the attacks with memorials to honor, to remember and to heal "because that's what this is ultimately about."
He said those who died at the Pentagon were already heroes to their loved ones before the attack, and told the assembled family members and friends that "my prayer for you is that 10 years later when you think of them ... that it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes."
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)