President Obama said at the Pentagon memorial this morning that the strength and perseverance of the 9/11 families 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,” Obama said.
“But you and America proved them wrong. America endures in the strength of your families who through your anguish kept living. You 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.”
American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 in the building as it slammed into E Ring.
“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,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at the morning ceremony. “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,” Hagel said. “These traits are embodied in our commander in chief.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey acknowledged to the families and friends of the fallen that “these memorial ceremonies, and we know you’ve been through many, are especially tough, emotion-filled moments for you.”
“Today offers us, all of us, the opportunity to rededicate our own lives to the causes of our great nation and its great future,” Dempsey said. “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.”
The Pentagon leaders were to hold another remembrance ceremony for Pentagon employees in the courtyard at 1 p.m.