President Obama Speaks at the September 11th Observance Ceremony


(trumpet playing) Male Speaker: Ladies
and gentlemen, please direct your
attention to the flag on the Pentagon building. The flag hangs today from
sunrise to sunset in honor of Patriot Day and in
remembrance of the 184 lives lost at the Pentagon. Ladies and gentlemen,
the National Anthem of the United States performed by the United States
Navy Brass Quintet. (National Anthem playing) Male Speaker: Ladies
and gentlemen, the United States Army
Chief of Chaplains, Major General
Donald Rutherford. Donald Rutherford:
Let us pray together. Lord of Hope, we’ve endured
over a decade of conflict. We have raised a generation
that has never seen a sunrise without war on our
national horizon. We look back on the events
that brought us to present, it would be easy to despair. Let us not forget we have
yet to write the ending of our national story. It would take a moment to
remember the day that it began. When we witnessed the flames of
hatred that were extinguished by acts of valor. We heard the cries of the
lost that were met with the prayers of the
grateful. We lived every day
with those memories, those whose dreams the
darkness left unfulfilled. A concluding handshake, a last
goodbye, and a final kiss. Remember those that we lost
and we grieve for them. Grieve for their families
and for ourselves. We come to remember them as
well as those who continue to fight on our frontiers
and those who stand watch within our borders at home. We come to remember that those
who expected weakness have instead seen strength. Those who wanted division
have instead seen unity. Those who sowed seeds of
violence and hatred have watched us harvest the fruits
of grace and of hope. Thirteen years ago, the lights
of darkness hoped to extinguish. They still shine today. And our hope and resolve let the
darkness cannot enter our lives. It is grace in which
we pray this day. Amen. Audience: Amen. Male Speaker: Ladies
and gentlemen, 13 years ago today at 9:37 a.m.,
the Pentagon was attacked. Please join us in observing
a moment of silence to remember those
who perished. Ladies and gentlemen, the
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey. Martin Dempsey: Mr. President,
Mrs. Obama, Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, thank you
for being here this morning. I want to offer a special
welcome to the families and friends of those we lost
on these grounds 13 years ago. We know these memorial
ceremonies and we know you’ve been through many,
are especially tough, emotion-filled moments for you. It takes a great deal of courage
to keep coming back here, so thanks for being here. Not long ago, I received a note
from a mom whose daughter is buried just across the
way at Arlington Cemetery. She said the pain of
losing someone you love, even years later,
never really goes away. At any instant, a smell or
a color or a song or a date on the calendar like today
can bring into stark relief that first raw moment
when everything changed. She said if there’s
any secret to grieving, it’s that there can be
room for sorrow and joy, sadness and pride, to exist in
the same space at the same time. And she learned that grief
is not a lack of faith nor a sign of weakness; it’s
just the price of love. Today is foremost about
reflecting and about remembering and about the love for the
184 lives that ended here at the Pentagon and those
that perished in New York and in Somerset County. Today is also about
strength and about resolve. We find strength in the children
who lost parents on 9/11 and who have blossomed into fine young
adults and are now making their own mark on their world. We find resolve in the men and
women that 9/11 roused to step forward to defend our country,
a generation that has served in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And today offers us, all of us,
the opportunity to rededicate our own lives to the
causes of our great nation and its great future. For as one of our
nation’s leaders said, “We could easily allow our
time and energy to be consumed by the crisis of the
moment, of the day, but we must also lay
the groundwork to help define our future.” It’s now my privilege to
introduce the man who spoke those words and who strives
to live them every day: our nation’s Secretary of
Defense, Chuck Hagel. (applause) Chuck Hagel: General
Dempsey, thank you. Mr. President, Mrs. Obama,
distinguished guests, family members, survivors. We will never forget what
happened on this day at this hour in this place. An act of terror that shook
the world and took the lives of 184 Americans. Today, we remember those we
lost on that day, this day, as we are surrounded by
those who loved them. We celebrate our nation’s
strength and resilience surrounded by those
who embody it, and we draw inspiration in the
ways in which survivors and victims’ families continue
to honor their legacy. Our thoughts also turn to
others whose lives were forever changed that day. The first responders and
survivors whose heroism and resilience we celebrate. The Pentagon personnel who
came to work the next day with a greater sense of
determination than ever before. And the men and women in uniform
who have stepped forward to defend our country over 13 long
years of war bearing incredible sacrifices along
with their families. We live at a time of many
complicated challenges, but America has always
faced challenges. And we have always responded as
a nation united in purpose woven together in a fabric of strong
character and resounding commitment to each other
and to our country. To lead our nation at such
a defining time requires not only the courage and
the vision to lead, but the humility that recognizes
this unique privilege. These traits are embodied
in our Commander-in-Chief. Ladies and gentlemen, the
President of the United States. (applause) President Obama: Good morning. Scripture tells us, “We
count as blessed those who have persevered.” Secretary Hagel,
General Dempsey, members of our Armed
Forces, and, most of all, the survivors of that September
day and the families of those we lost — Michelle and I
are humbled to be with you once again. It has now been 13 years. Thirteen years since the
peace of an American morning was broken. Thirteen years
since nearly 3,000 beautiful lives
were taken from us, including 125 men and women
serving here at the Pentagon. Thirteen years of moments they
would have shared with us. Thirteen years of memories
they would have made. Here, once more, we pray for
the souls of those we remember, for you, their families,
who love them forever, and for a nation that has been
inspired by your example — your determination to carry on, your
resolve to live lives worthy of their memories. As Americans, we draw
strength from you. For your love is the ultimate
rebuke to the hatred of those who attacked us that
bright, blue morning. They sought to do more
than bring down buildings or murder our people. 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, and America,
proved them wrong. America endures in the
strength of your families who, through your
anguish, kept living. You have kept alive a love
that no act of terror can ever extinguish. You, their sons and daughters,
are growing into extraordinary young men and women
they knew you could be. By your shining example, your
families have turned this day into something that those who
attacked us could never abide, and that is a tribute of hope
over fear, and love over hate. America endures in the
tenacity of our survivors. After grievous wounds,
you learned to walk again and stand again. After terrible burns,
you smiled once more. For you, for our nation, these
have been difficult years. But by your presence here today,
in the lives of service that you have led, you embody the truth
that no matter what comes our way, America will
always come out stronger. America endures in the
dedication of those who keep us safe. The firefighter, the officer,
the EMT who carries the memory of a fallen partner as they
report to work each and every day, prepared to make the
same sacrifice for us all. Because of these men and
women, Americans now work in a gleaming Freedom Tower. We visit our great cities,
we fill our stadiums and cheer for our teams. We carry on, because,
as Americans, we do not give in
to fear — ever. America endures in the
courage of the men and women who serve under our flag. Over more than a decade of
war, this 9/11 Generation has answered our country’s call,
and three months from now, our combat mission in
Afghanistan will come to an end. Today, we honor all who have
made the ultimate sacrifice these 13 years, more than
6,800 American patriots. And we give thanks to those who
serve in harm’s way to keep our country safe and meet
the threats of our time. America endures in that
perennial optimism that defines us as a people. Beginning tomorrow, there will
be teenagers — young adults — who were born after 9/11. It’s remarkable. And while these young Americans
did not know the horrors of that day, their lives have been
shaped by all the days since — a time that has brought us pain,
but also taught us endurance and strength; a time of rebuilding, of resilience, and of renewal. What gives us hope — what gives
me hope — is that it is these young Americans who will
shape all the days to come. Thirteen years after small
and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands
tall and America stands proud. And guided by the
values that sustain us, we will only grow stronger. Generations from now, Americans
will still fill our parks, our stadiums, our cities. Generations from now, Americans
will still build towers that reach toward the heavens; still
serve in embassies that stand for freedom around the world;
still wear the uniform and give meaning to those words written
two centuries ago: Land of the free. Home of the Brave. Generations from now,
no matter the trial, no matter the challenge,
America will always be America. “We count as blessed those
who have persevered.” May God bless your families,
who continue to inspire us all. May God bless our Armed
Forces and all who serve to keep us safe. And may God continue to bless
the United States of America.

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