President Obama Speaks at a Pentagon Memorial Service in Remembrance of 9/11

Uploaded by whitehouse on 11.09.2012

Announcer: At this time, President Barack Obama, accompanied by
Mrs. Michelle Obama, Secretary Leon Panetta, and General Martin
Dempsey and Mrs. Deanie Dempsey, will pay special tribute to the
lives lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77
on September 11th 2001, by placing a wreath at the zero age
line of the Pentagon Memorial.
(trumpet playing)
Announcer: Please direct your attention to the Pentagon Memorial Flag Pole
to your right in honor of Patriot Day and in remembrance
of the 184 lives lost at the Pentagon.
The flag is flying at half-staff.
Ladies and gentlemen, the National Anthem of
the United States.
(trumpets playing)
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the United States Army Chief of Chaplains,
Major General, Donald Rutherford.
Major General Donald Rutherford: Let us pray.
O God, our refuge and strength, our ever present help in
trouble, we remember the events of September 11th, 2001.
We pray for all those who grieve today; for those who witnessed
and survived the attacks, those who came to rescue, to save and
protect, all the souls who were lost, remembering especially
those whose names are eternally etched into this memorial.
On a day when the worst was visited upon our nation, our
spirits are forever inspired by the acts of heroic valor that we
witnessed at ground zero, in a Pennsylvania field and here at
the Pentagon.
We pray for the selfless men and women who have been called to
defend our country in the ways of freedom both at
home and abroad.
Inspired by their legacy, we ask for continued courage and
strength of spirit to faithfully serve our military
and our nation.
We are thankful, Divine Healer, that in our time of loss,
you do not abandon us to our grief.
Pour out your healing balm upon us, that we may do your work,
sharing peace with justice, offering forgiveness and
building community, walking with others into abundant
life for all.
Hear us, Lord God, as we join in prayer this day.
In your holy name we pray.
Announcer: Eleven years ago at 9:37 a.m., the Pentagon was attacked.
Please join us in observing a moment of silence to remember
those who perished.
(moment of silence)
Announcer: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General Martin Dempsey.
General Martin Dempsey: Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, Mr. Secretary, distinguished
guests, good morning.
And thank you all for being here.
My wife, Deanie, and I offer a special welcome to the families
and friends of those we lost on these grounds
11 years ago today.
One of them was Chief Warrant Officer William Rooth.
His memorial bench of granite and steel sits in the last row
in front of me, seventh in from the far right.
Bill served as a Marine in Vietnam, flying helicopters.
After the war, he became a social studies teacher and
joined the Army National Guard, serving in the first Gulf War
as a medevac pilot.
He was loved by his students.
They were proud of his service and moved by his deep commitment
to them and to our nation.
One student said, he opened up my eyes and my heart to
the world.
Many others, inspired by his example, became teachers,
nurses, firefighters, and several followed him into the
life of the military.
Bill retired from the classroom after nearly 30 years and
returned to serve in the Pentagon.
There is no doubt among his colleagues that he lost his life
that fateful morning because in the middle of the chaos he
stopped to help somebody.
There were thousands like Bill that day.
They remind us that life takes on meaning only as the causes to
which we attach ourselves have meaning, that in the end we
become what we are through some cause we make our own.
September 11th will always stand apart from other days, not
because of what we say appear about service and sacrifice,
courage and character -- of course, it's all of those things
-- but also because of what those things say about all
of us, all Americans.
So today, as we remember the 184 lives that ended here and all
who perished in New York and in Somerset County, Pennsylvania,
let us commit ourselves to the ideals for which they lived and
in which they believed.
Let us also honor the generation they inspired to step forward to
defend our nation, a generation who fought in Iraq and who still
fight in Afghanistan.
Let us rededicate our own lives to the cause of giving back to
our great nation, for as one of our nation's leaders said, the
strength of our democracy has always rested on the willingness
of those who believe in its values and in their will to
serve to give something back to this country.
And now it's my privilege to introduce to you the man who
spoke those words and who lives them every day, our secretary of
defense, Leon Panetta.
Secretary Leon Panetta: Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, General Dempsey, distinguished
guests, ladies and gentlemen and, in particular, the family
members who lost a loved one here on 9/11, 11 years ago, on a
morning very much like this, terrorists attacked the symbols
of American strength -- our economy and our commerce, our
military might and our democracy -- and took the lives of
citizens from more than 90 countries.
It was the worst terrorist attack on America in our history.
Today people gather across the United States, around the world,
to remember the tragic events of 9/11.
Some take part in ceremonies like this.
Other spend time in quiet reflection and prayer.
And all of us take a moment to remember again where we were at
that fateful moment.
Here together as one family, we pause to honor and to pray and
to remember 184 lives lost at the Pentagon, more than 2,700
killed in Lower Manhattan and the 40 who perished in that
field in Pennsylvania on Flight 93.
These victims' families remember those who were lost as mothers
and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
The family members here today know that the entire nation --
the entire nation -- joins you in mourning the loss of
your loved ones.
We are honored by your presence.
And just as your loved ones are heroes forever,
so are all of you.
Today we also recognize and remember other heroes, those
first responders who rushed to the scene behind me into the
fire and chaos to save lives and helped in any way possible.
We owe all of you a very special debt.
We appreciate all you did to provide aid and comfort to those
who needed it so badly.
Our thoughts also turn to the survivors.
On that bright, sunny Tuesday morning, you reported to work
with no idea about the tragedy that lay ahead.
Suddenly this building was rocked by an explosion.
After the impact, many of you risked your lives
to help others.
Many can remember the smell of the rubble and jet fuel.
And some of you knew the victims as office mates and friends and
knew their families.
Like 60 years before, a nation at peace suddenly
found itself at war.
For all of you and for every American, this memorial is a
permanent place for prayer and for remembrance.
And it is a fitting tribute to the lives of those so cruelly
taken from us, passengers and crew of Flight 77, military and
civilian personnel working here at the Pentagon.
It is a fitting tribute to all of those who were lost.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit another memorial, the
Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.
I was reminded of those horrible moments after the hijacking when
the passengers and crew were able to make frantic calls to
speak to their loved ones for the last time.
They knew what was at stake, and yet they decided to fight back.
Together they took swift and decisive action to stop yet
another attack, targeted at the nation's capital.
That spirit of selflessness, that spirit of determination and
courage is the enduring legacy of 9/11.
It inspires our nation.
It inspires our military to ensure that such an attack
will never happen again.
It inspires us to never forget those who perished to defend our
homeland, to defend our ideals, to send a resounding message to
our enemies that no one attacks the United States and America
and gets away with it, for today we also recall that out of the
shock and sadness of 9/11 came a new sense of unity and resolve
that this would not happen again.
It inspired a fierce determination to fight
back and protect our way of life.
In trying to attack our strengths, the terrorists
unleashed our greatest strength: the spirit and the will of
Americans to fight for their country.
Millions of Americans responded.
A whole new and great generation stepped forward to serve in
uniform, to fight in this war on terrorism.
They bled on distant battlefields.
They relentless -- relentlessly pursued those who would do us harm.
They put their lives on the line to give all of us a safer and
better future, and to bring those behind these
attacks to justice.
Because of their sacrifices, because they were willing to
fight and to die, because of their dedication, our nation
is stronger and safer today than on 9/11.
We never gave up the search for bin Laden.
We successfully brought him to justice.
We decimated the leadership of al-Qaida.
We have them on the run, and we have made it difficult for them
to plan and conduct another 9/11 attack.
And while that group is still a threat, we've dealt them a heavy
blow, and we will continue to fight them -- in Yemen,
in Somalia, in North Africa, wherever they go -- to make
sure they have no place to hide.
Our troops denied safe haven to al-Qaida and its allies in
Afghanistan, and they're fighting so that Afghanistan
can secure and govern itself.
Make no mistake; we will continue to pursue and fight
our enemies wherever they go, wherever they hide, wherever
they try to find refuge.
We will never stop until we have made sure that America is safe.
On this day of solemn remembrance, let us renew a
solemn pledge to those who died on 9/11 and their families.
It is a pledge we also make to all of those who put their lives
on the line and who paid a heavy price for the last
11 years of war.
Our pledge is to keep fighting for a safer and stronger future.
Our pledge is to ensure that America always remains a
government of, by and for all people.
That pledge, that legacy makes clear that no one -- no one who
died on that terrible day 11 years ago died in vain.
They died for a stronger America.
This morning we are honored by the presence of our military and
civilian leaders.
And we are particularly honored by the presence of the president
and Mrs. Obama.
This president has led our efforts in this fight, and I
have honored -- been honored to serve with him.
It is now my great honor to introduce our commander
in chief.
Ladies and gentlemen, President Barack Obama.
The President: Secretary Panetta, General Dempsey, members of our Armed
Forces, and most importantly, to the families -- survivors and
loved ones -- of those we lost, Michelle and I are humbled to
join you again on this solemn anniversary.
Today we remember a day that began like so many others.
There were rides to school and commutes to work, early flights
and familiar routines, quick hugs and quiet moments.
It was a day like this one -- a clear blue sky, but a sky that
would soon be filled with clouds of smoke and prayers of a nation
shaken to its core.
Even now, all these years later, it is easy for those of us who
lived through that day to close our eyes and to find ourselves
back there -- and back here -- back when grief crashed over us
like an awful wave, when Americans everywhere held
each other tight, seeking the reassurance that the world we
knew wasn't crumbling under our feet.
Eleven times we have marked another September 11th come
and gone.
Eleven times, we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in
unity and in purpose.
This is never an easy day.
But it is especially difficult for all of you -- the families
of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives -- your mothers
and fathers, your husbands and wives, your sons and
your daughters.
They were taken from us suddenly and far too soon.
To you and your families, the rest of us cannot begin to
imagine the pain you've endured these many years.
We will never fully understand how difficult it has been for
you to carry on, to summon that strength and to rebuild
your lives.
But 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.
Your loved ones will never be forgotten.
They will endure in the hearts of our nation, because through
their sacrifice, they helped us make the America we are today --
an America that has emerged even stronger.
Most of the Americans we lost that day had never considered
the possibility that a small band of terrorists halfway
around the world could do us such harm.
Most had never heard the name al Qaeda.
And yet, it's because of their sacrifice that we've come
together and dealt a crippling blow to the organization that
brought evil to our shores.
Al Qaeda's leadership has been devastated and Osama bin Laden
will never threaten us again.
Our country is safer and our people are resilient.
It's true that the majority of those who died on September 11th
had never put on our country's uniform.
And yet, they inspired more than 5 million Americans -- members
of the 9/11 Generation -- to wear that uniform over
the last decade.
These men and women have done everything that we have asked.
Today, the war in Iraq is over.
In Afghanistan, we're training Afghan security forces and
forging a partnership with the Afghan people.
And by the end of 2014, the longest war in our history
will be over.
Meanwhile, countless civilians have opened their hearts to our
troops, our military families and our veterans.
Eleven years ago, memorial services were held for Americans
of different races and creeds, backgrounds and beliefs.
And yet, instead of turning us against each other, tragedy has
brought us together.
I've always said that our fight is with al Qaeda and its
affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion.
This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.
That's what's made us strong, now and forever.
And, finally, when those innocent souls were taken
from us they left behind unfulfilled work and tasks
that remain undone.
And that's why, on a day when others sought to bring this
country down, we choose to build it up with a National Day of
Service and Remembrance.
Scripture tells us "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome
evil with good."
There's no better way to honor the best in those who died than
by discovering the best in ourselves.
This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the
darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn.
Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names
and kneel beside a building where a single stone still
bears the scars of that fire.
We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the
heroes who made it sacred.
We can see water cascading into the footprints of the
Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the
New York skyline.
And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden
carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is
growing up with his father's eyes, and a daughter has her
mother's laugh -- living reminders that those who
died are with us still.
So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves
us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy
who we are.
No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for.
Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe
in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that
we confess.
That's the commitment that we reaffirm today.
And that's why, when the history books are written, the true
legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division.
It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people
more united than ever before.
God bless the memories of those we lost.
And God bless these United States of America.