SHAFAQNA – President Obama observed the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the Pentagon Thursday, telling survivors and family members of those who died that the American spirit endures in the resolve and optimism of its people. Standing at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Obama said that the nation has been inspired by the determination of families to carry on in the face of their loss. They have turned this date “into something that those who attacked us could never abide,” he said, choosing hope over fear and love over hate. “They sought to break our spirit and to prove to the world that their power to destroy was greater than our power to persevere and to build. But you, America proved them wrong,” Obama said.
Obama observed that it has been “13 years since the peace of an American morning was broken, 13 years since nearly 3,000 beautiful lives were taken from us.”
But, he said, the United States, has not been intimidated by the attacks.
“We carry on because as Americans we do not give into fear. Ever.”
Obama laid a wreath at the memorial with first lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Earlier that morning Obama, Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden observed a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn. Flags flew at half-staff. After a minute of silence, taps were played.
The president praised the generation that “answered our nation’s call” during nearly a decade of war, and paid honor to the thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who have died.
Obama noted that the combat mission in Afghanistan will formally cease at the end of the year, but said nothing about airstrikes in Iraq and the open-ended plan he announced Wednesday to battle the Islamic State there and in Syria.
He pointed out that there are now teenagers who were born after Sept. 11 — a generation that, while having no memory of the attacks, was shaped by them and by the aftermath.
“Thirteen years after small and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud,” he said. “And guided by the values that sustain us, we will only grow stronger.”
Later in the day, he and the first lady participated in a Day of Service project at the Inspired Teaching Charter School in Northeast Washington.
Biden made an unannounced stop at George Washington University to commemorate the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. He dropped in on about 60 volunteers who were filling goodie bags for first responders.
Biden spoke of his admiration for firefighters and how they were there for him during several emergencies — when he suffered a cranial aneurysm; when his family was in a car accident that killed his wife and baby daughter; and when lightning struck his house.
Biden thanked the volunteers for helping first responders, who are always looking out for others.
“The fact that you think of them today, I just came by to thank you and let you know, from personal experience, it matters,” Biden said.