WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – President Barack Obama said the U.S. is safer and its people resilient on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama laid a wreath at the Pentagon, one of several official observances marking the suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Eleven times we have marked another Sept. 11th – come and gone. Eleven times we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in unity and in purpose,” Obama said in remarks at the Pentagon.
Aided by a Marine honor guard, Obama placed a white floral wreath on a metal stand above a concrete slab that said “Sept. 11, 2001 – 9:37 am.” A moment of silence began at precisely 9:37 a.m.
Obama recalled a day “when grief crashed over us like an awful wave.”
“No matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this — that you will never be alone, that your loved ones will never be forgotten,” Obama said.
Following the ceremony at the Pentagon, the Obamas visited graves of service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq at Arlington National Cemetery.
In Pennsylvania, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to hundreds at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, saying the ceremonies were a reminder that the country hasn’t forgotten them.
“My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes,” Biden said. “I also hope it continues to give you some solace that this nation, that all of the people who are gathered here today, that they have not forgotten.”
He also participated in Tuesday’s wreath-laying at the memorial where a United Airlines jet crashed in a field after passengers tried to wrest control of the plane from their hijackers during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The names of the passengers and crew were read aloud at 10:03 a.m., the moment the plane crashed.
Bells of remembrance were rung by surviving family members and community members who became involved in the aftermath of the crash. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also addressed the gathering.
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