The mournful tones of „Taps” fluttered over the South Lawn of the White House as President Barack Obama and first ladyMichelle Obama led America in a silent tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The crisp, clear day recalled the pleasant fall weather the morning of that national tragedy.
The Obamas walked somberly out of the residence of the White House and, flanked by hundreds of staff, bowed their heads at 8:46 a.m.—11 years after American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. The first couple placed their hands over their hearts as „Taps” played and a military color guard dipped its flags. Afterward, they turned, clasped hands and walked back into the presidential mansion.
[Slideshow: The nation remembers 9/11]
The Obamas then traveled to the Pentagon for a 9/11 observance ceremony. „This is never an easy day,” the president told an audience of active-duty service members, families of those killed and others.
„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,” he said.”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,” he said.”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.Relatives of victims of 9/11 listen to President Barack Obama at a Pentagon memorial ceremony. (Jason Reed/Reu …
„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,” he said. „God bless the memories of those we lost. And God bless these United States of America.”The president will visit the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington suburb of Bethesda in the afternoon.Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Somerset County, Pennsylvania, to make remarks at a ceremony honoring the passengers and crew of Flight 93, which slammed into the ground killing all aboard after an insurrection against the hijackers. Biden, who lost his first wife and infant daughter in a 1972 car crash, drew on his experience to deliver a searingly personal message to families mourning loved ones gone 11 years on.”For no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns; the lingering echo of that phone call; that sense of total disbelief that envelops you, where you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest,” he said.”My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch,” Biden said.”And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him,” Biden said. „For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.”America, Biden said, has „not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers.”In Washington, there were a few signs of some of the changes wrought by the attacks, such as a K-9 team outside a metro stop a few blocks from the White House and the dark silhouette of a military battery atop an office building overlooking the presidential mansion. And both Obama’s campaign and Mitt Romney’s suspended negative ads for a day.The attacks saw extremists from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network hijack four airliners to use as guided missiles, crashing into both towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed. America’s response included the late-2001 invasion of Afghanistan, a war that is now the country’s longest, and the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bin Laden met his end at the hands of Navy SEAL commanders in a May 2011 raid on his compound in Pakistan.CORRECTION 11:35 a.m.: This post has been corrected to fix a typo in the date in the lead.
Bin Laden’s reach: How September 11th will affect this year’s election Yahoo! News – 2 hrs 42 mins ago If you have any doubt that the first Tuesday in November is still shadowed by that second Tuesday in September eleven years ago, just replay a few lines from the Democratic National Convention.“General Motors is alive, and Osama Bin Laden is dead!” thundered Vice-President Joe Biden.“Ask Osama Bin Laden if he’s better off than he was four years ago!” asked Senator John Kerry, after arguing that “after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into Pakistanto pursue the terrorists, it took President [Barack] Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden!”
Said President Obama: “A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al- Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.”The message is as subtle as a Hellfire missile. The Democrats, so used to playing defense on the issue of national security, are positioning their candidate as tougher, more seasoned, more focused on taking the fight to our enemies. This year we have yet another election—and that’s all but one since the attacks on New York and Washington–where September 11th has had a powerful, even decisive impact on our politics.There’s no surprise here. When the blood of thousands of Americans is shed, the impact lingers. For a generation after the Civil War, the Republican injunction to “vote as you shot” kept the party dominant for decades; from 1868 to 1912, only one Democrat–Grover Cleveland–won the White House.The last Americans left Vietnam almost half a century ago; but the Democratic nominee eight years ago and the Republican nominee four years ago were men whose Vietnam service propelled them into politics. (One of them, John Kerry, saw that record savaged by those “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads.)So it comes as no surprise that the deadliest attack on American soil, and America’s response to that violence, has shaped our politics ever since. Consider the following:In 2002, with President George W. Bush’s popularity at a high mark with a 63% approval to a 29% disapproval rating at the end of October, Karl Rove told Republicans “We can go to the country on this issue [prosecuting the war on terror] because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America’s military might.” Republicans strengthened their hold on the House, and won two crucial Senate seats, giving them the majority.In 2004, the War in Iraq–a war made politically possible by the shadow of September 11th and by the widely held, fallacious belief that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been involved–was a dominant issue. And for the Democrats, the need to present a candidate with national securitystrength was one key reason why John Kerry won the nomination. That message was emphasized–painfully so–when Kerry came on stage at the Democratic National Convention in front of a phalanx of military leaders to proclaim: “I’m John Kerry–reporting for duty.” Had 9/11 never happened, it’s entirely likely that someone else–most likely Senator John Edwards–would have won that nomination. And without the War in Iraq, and the impulse of voters to support a “wartime president,” the fate of Bush’s re-election might well have been different. There is no doubt that the Republicans understood this. It’s why they put their convention, for the first time ever, in New York City, where the World Trade Center towers stood. And it’s why their message about John Kerry was: “he won’t know how to protect us.”By the time of the 2006 midterms, feelings about the war, and the President, had turned. Just before Election Day, Bush’s approval rating was well under water: with only 38% approval to 56% disapproval; and by a 38% to 61% margin, the public disapproved of the war. A majority also said that the United States should never have gone to war in the first place. That November, Democrats won back both the House and the Senate.By 2008, the Democratic Party base had so thoroughly rejected the war that those Presidential aspirants who had backed the use of force found themselves at a distinct liability. Bill Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Chris Dodd, all had voted for it; only Obama, from the safe distance of an Illinois State Senate seat, had opposed it. It was one major reason why he won that nomination; with a majority of the electorate convinced the war was a mistake, Obama’s lack of national securitycredentials did not prove disabling.And now, with the economy dominating the election, the president may find himself with a small, but tangible advantage in arguing that it was under his watch that Public Enemy Number One was dispatched, bringing a measure of justice–and yes, revenge– to the country.There is more than a little irony here. For much of our political history, military valor was one of the surest ways to convince the voters that a candidate was worthy of the highest office. George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower all rode their wartime heroics into the White House.And this year, the continuing impact of September 11th means that a man who never served in the armed forces, but took out Osama bin Laden, may well find himself the latest political beneficiary of this national security tradition.
Obama says victims will never be forgotten as 9/11 remembrances begin By Chris Francescani and Ian Simpson | Reuters – 2 hrs 37 mins ago NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obamasaid on Tuesday that the September 11 victims would be remembered „no matter how many years pass” as Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people were killed by airliners hijacked by Islamist militants.Two of the passenger jets brought down the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, another hit the Pentagon outsideWashington and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when passengers aboard that flight fought back against the hijackers.Obama, speaking at the Pentagon where 184 people were killed, told victims’ families that the whole country shares their loss.”Eleven times we have paused in remembrance and reflection, in unity and in purpose,” Obama said. „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.””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.”Speaking under clear blue skies that recalled the crisp morning of September 11, 2001, Obama said America’s fight is not with Islam but with al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks, and its allies.This is a line he has used several times since taking office promising to mend ties with the Muslim world.”I’ve always said our fight is with al Qaeda and its affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion,” he said. „This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.”At Ground Zero in New York where the towers once stood, the annual reading of the list of 2,983 people killed at the three sites began at 8:39 a.m. (1239 GMT).The first names were read by Patricia Abbott, wife of Alan Jay Richman, who died at the trade center, and by Allison Adams, wife of Patrick Adams, who also died in the trade center’s collapse. It will take 198 people more than three hours to read the list alphabetically.The list excludes the 19 hijackers, who died carrying out the attacks.Moments of silence were observed at 8:46 a.m. (1246 GMT), 9:03 a.m., 9:37 a.m. and 10:03 a.m., the times of impact for the four planes, and again at 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m., the times that the north tower and then the south tower fell.‘I AM JUST SO TIRED’ As the time of the reading approached, family members, uniformed police and firefighters milled about the vast, twin reflecting pools that mark the footprints of the towers, their edges etched with the names of the victims. Many brought pictures of their loved ones.Alyson Low, 41, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, carried a picture of her sister, Sara Elizabeth Low, who was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to crash, striking the north tower.”I’m tired,” Low said, tearfully. „I am just so tired.”Twelve-year-old Hailey Perez, of Clifton, New Jersey, was in attendance for the second time, having come to memorial ceremonies for the first time a year ago. She carried a white-framed photo of her godfather, Kenny Lira, who worked on the 110th floor of the south tower.For years she had not come to the annual ceremony, but now that the memorial plaza is complete and the Freedom Tower nears completion to replace the fallen buildings, she feels more comfortable attending, she said.”It’s better than previous years because I didn’t want to come here and look at all the rubble,” she said.FAMILIES ONLY In previous years, politicians including U.S. presidents, governors and New York City mayors have participated in the reading of the names, or have read from the Bible or recited passages from literature.This year only the families of the more than 2,750 who were killed at the World Trade Center will appear on the podium to read their names.Politicians were in attendance. But under rules set down in July by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, none may speak or participate in the reading of names.Bloomberg was on hand, as was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani, who was mayor when the attacks occurred.In Washington, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence for the September 11 victims on the South Lawn of the White House before heading across the Potomac River to the Pentagon.After the Pentagon ceremony, Obama stopped at Arlington National Cemetery, where he and the first lady paid their respects at the graves of military service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance to deliver remarks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where 40 passengers aboard United Flight 93 were killed when that plane crashed as they fought back against their hijackers.U.S. authorities say the hijackers planned to crash that plane into the U.S. Capitol in Washington.(Additional reporting by Drew Singer in Pennsylvania, Matt Spetalnick and Margaret Chadbourn in Washington; editing by Dan Burns and Xavier Briand)