Full Text September 10, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Marks the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the September 11th Terror Attacks & Pays Tribute to the First Responders

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and pays tribute to the first responders, those serving our nation in the military, and those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/9/11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Weekly Address: Coming Together to Remember

President Obama pays tribute to the first responders, those who have served, and those who lost their lives ten years ago in the September 11th attacks. Visit Serve.gov for ways to commemorate the solemn anniversary in your community.

 

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WEEKLY ADDRESS: Remembering September 11th

In this week’s address, President Obama marked the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and paid tribute to the first responders, those serving our nation in the military, and those who lost their lives on that tragic day.  In the difficult decade since 9/11, our nation has stayed strong in the face of threat, and we have strengthened our homeland security, enhanced our partnerships, and put al Qaeda on the path to defeat.  As we look to the future, we will continue to prove that the terrorists who attacked us are no match for the courage, resilience, and endurance of the American people.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House Saturday September 10, 2011

This weekend, we’re coming together, as one nation, to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  We’re remembering the lives we lost—nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.  We’re reaffirming our commitment to always keep faith with their families.

We’re honoring the heroism of first responders who risked their lives—and gave their lives—to save others.  And we’re giving thanks to all who serve on our behalf, especially our troops and military families—our extraordinary 9/11 Generation.

At the same time, even as we reflect on a difficult decade, we must look forward, to the future we will build together.  That includes staying strong and confident in the face of any threat.  And thanks to the tireless efforts of our military personnel and our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security professionals—there should be no doubt.  Today, America is stronger and al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.

We’ve taken the fight to al Qaeda like never before.  Over the past two and a half years, more senior al Qaeda leaders have been eliminated than at any time since 9/11.  And thanks to the remarkable courage and precision of our forces, we finally delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.

We’ve strengthened the partnerships and tools we need to prevail in this war against al Qaeda—working closer with allies and partners; reforming intelligence to better detect and disrupt plots; investing in our Special Forces so terrorists have no safe haven.

We’re constantly working to improve the security of our homeland as well—at our airports, ports and borders; enhancing aviation security and screening; increasing support for our first responders; and working closer than ever with states, cities and communities.

A decade after 9/11, it’s clear for all the world to see—the terrorists who attacked us that September morning are no match for the character of our people, the resilience of our nation, or the endurance of our values.

They wanted to terrorize us, but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.  Yes we face a determined foe, and make no mistake—they will keep trying to hit us again.  But as we are showing again this weekend, we remain vigilant.  We’re doing everything in our power to protect our people.  And no matter what comes our way, as a resilient nation, we will carry on.

They wanted to draw us in to endless wars, sapping our strength and confidence as a nation.  But even as we put relentless pressure on al Qaeda, we’re ending the war in Iraq and beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.  Because after a hard decade of war, it is time for nation building here at home.

They wanted to deprive us of the unity that defines us as a people.  But we will not succumb to division or suspicion. We are Americans, and we are stronger and safer when we stay true to the values, freedoms and diversity that make us unique among nations.

And they wanted to undermine our place in the world.  But a decade later, we’ve shown that America doesn’t hunker down and hide behind walls of mistrust.  We’ve forged new partnerships with nations around the world to meet the global challenges that no nation can face alone.  And across the Middle East and North Africa a new generation of citizens is showing that the future belongs to those that want to build, not destroy.

Ten years ago, ordinary Americans showed us the true meaning of courage when they rushed up those stairwells, into those flames, into that cockpit.  In the decade since, a new generation has stepped forward to serve and keep us safe.  In their memory, in their name, we will never waver.  We will protect the country we love and pass it safer, stronger and more prosperous to the next generation.

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Full Text September 10, 2011: President George W. Bush’s Speech at the Unveiling of the Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, Pennsylvania

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11

President George W. Bush’s Flight 93 Memorial Dedication Speech

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Mr. Vice President, Dr. Biden, President Clinton, Mr. Speaker, members of Congress, my friends Tommy Franks and Tom Ridge, thank you for helping raise the money for this memorial. Members of the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, all of those who supported this memorial, but most importantly, the families of Flight 93. Laura and I are honored to join you in dedicating this memorial to the heroes of Flight 93.

When the sun rose in the Pennsylvania sky ten years ago tomorrow, it was a peaceful September morning. By the time it set nearly 3,000 people were gone. The most lives lost on American soil in a single day since the battle of Antietam.

With the distance of a decade, 9/11 can feel like a part of a different era. But for the families of the men and women stolen, some of whom join us today, that day will never feel like history. The memory of that morning is fresh and so is the pain. America shares your grief. We pray for your comfort and we honor your loved ones.

September 11th, 2001, innocent men and women went to work at the World Trade Center. They reported for duty at the Pentagon. They boarded American Flights 11 and 77, United 93 and 175. They did nothing to provoke or deserve the deliberate act of murder that al Qaeda carried out.

One of the lessons of 9/11 is that evil is real, and so is courage. When the planes struck the World Trade Center, firefighters and police officers charged up the stairs into the flames. As the towers neared collapse, they continued the rescue efforts.

Ultimately, more than 400 police officers and firefighters gave their lives. Among them was the chief of the New York City Fire Department Peter Gancy. As a colleague put it, he would never ask anyone to do something he didn’t do himself.

The Pentagon service members and civilians pulled friends and strangers from burning rubble. One special forces soldier recalls reaching through a cloud of smoke in search of the wounded. As he entered one room, he prayed to find someone alive. He discovered a severely burned woman and carried her to safety. Later, in the hospital, where she explained she’s been praying for rescue. She called him her guardian angel.

And then there’s the extraordinary story we commemorate here. Aboard United Airlines Flight 93 were college students from California, an iron worker from New Jersey, veterans of the Korean War and World War II, citizens of Germany and Japan, a pilot who had rearranged his schedule so that he could take his wife on a vacation to celebrate their anniversary.

When the passengers and crew realized the plane had been hijacked, they reported the news calmly. When they learned that the terrorists had crashed other planes into targets on the ground, they accepted greater responsibilities. In the back of the cabin, the passengers gathered to devise a strategy.

At the moment America’s democracy was under attack, our citizens defied their captors by holding a vote. The choice they made would cost them their lives, and they knew it. Many passengers called their loved ones to say good-bye, then

Many passengers called their loved ones to say goodbye then hung up to perform their final act. One said, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you.” Another said, “It’s up to us. I think we can do it.”

In one of the most stirring accounts, Todd Beamer, a father of two with a pregnant wife with a home in New Jersey, asked the air operator to join him in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Then he helped lead the charge with the words “Let’s roll.”

With their selfless act, the men and women who stormed the cockpit lived out the words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And with their brave decision, they launched the first counter offensive of the war on terror. The most likely target of the hijacked plane was the United States Capitol. We’ll never know how many innocent people might have been lost, but we do know this, Americans are alive today because the passengers and crew of Flight 93 chose to act, and our nation will be forever grateful.

The 40 souls who perished on the plane left a great deal behind. They left spouses and children and grandchildren who miss them dearly. They left successful businesses and promising careers and a lifetime of dreams they will never have the chance to fulfill. They left something else — a legacy of bravery and selflessness that will always inspire America.

For generations people will study the flight, the story of Flight 93. They will learn that individual choices make a difference, that love and sacrifice can triumph over evil and hate, and that what happened above this Pennsylvania field ranks among the most courageous acts in American history.

At the memorial we dedicate today will ensure our nation always remembers those lost here on 9/11. But we have a duty beyond memory. We have a duty beyond honoring. We have a duty to live our lives in a way that upholds the ideals for which the men and women gave their lives, to build a living memorial to their courage and sacrifice. We have a duty to find common purpose as a nation.

In the days after 9/11, the response came like a single hand over a single heart. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle gathered on the steps of the capitol to sing “God bless America.” neighbors reached out to neighbors of all backgrounds and beliefs.

The past decade, our country has been tested by natural disaster, economic turmoil, anxieties and challenges here at home and abroad. There have been spirited debates along the way. It’s the essence of democracy. But Americans have never been defined by our disagreements. Whatever challenges we face today and in the future, we must never lose faith in our ability to meet them together. We must never allow our differences to harden into divisions.

Secondly, we have a duty to remain engaged in the world as 9/11 proved that the conditions in the country on the other side of the world can have an impact on our own streets. It may be tempting to think it doesn’t matter what happens to a villager in Afghanistan or a child in Africa, but the temptation of isolation is deadly wrong.

World repression, anger and resentment will be a never ending source of violence and threats. A world of dignity and liberty and hope will be safer and better for all. The surest way to move toward that vision is for the United States of America to lead the cause of freedom.

Finally, we each have a duty to serve a cause larger than ourselves. The passengers aboard Flight 93 set an example that inspires us all. Many have followed their path of service by donating blood or mentoring a child or volunteering in desperate corners of the earth. Some have devoted their careers to analyzing intelligence or protecting our borders and securing our skies. Others have made the noble choice to defend our nation in battle.

For 10 years, our troops have risked and given their lives to prevent our enemies from attacking America again. They’ve kept us safe, they have made us proud, and they have upheld the spirit of service shown by the passengers on Flight 93.

Many years ago, in 1863, another president came to dedicate a memorial site in this state. He told his audience that, “In a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. For the brave souls who struggled there, it consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.”

He added “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

So it is with Flight 93. For as long as this memorial stands, we will remember what the men and women aboard the plane did here. We’ll pay tribute to the courage they showed, the sacrifice they made, and the lives they spared. The United States will never forget.

May God bless you all.

Full Text September 10, 2011: Vice President Joe Biden, President George W. Bush & President Bill Clinton at the Unveiling of the Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, Pennsylvania

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11

“A Debt We Can Never Repay”

Source: WH, 9-10-11
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden at the newly unveiled Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden walk past the newly unveiled Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 10, 2011. Also pictured are President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, President Bill Clinton, Secretary Ken Salazar, and Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Nearly a decade after September 11, 2001, Vice President Biden, with Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Laura Bush and Dr. Jill Biden were in Shanksville, Pennsylvania today to participate in a dedication ceremony for the first phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial – a marble “Wall of Names” that enshrines the names of the 40 heroic men and women who, as Vice President Biden said, “gave their lives so others could live theirs” by preventing an attack on our nation’s capitol.

Before an audience that included families and loved ones of those lost, as well as thousands of others there to pay tribute to a remarkable group of Americans, Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky read aloud the names of the 40 passengers and crew as 40 bell chimes rang out in accompaniment.

The flag that flew above the United States Capitol on September 11, 2001 was ceremonially raised above the memorial, along with the flags of New Zealand, Japan, Germany and Puerto Rico – representing all of the birthplaces of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

Vice President Joe Biden and President George W. Bush in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Vice President Joe Biden and President George W. Bush shake hands with families of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 after the unveiling of the Flight 93 National Memorial, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Speaking directly to their families and loved ones, Vice President Biden noted that while “no memorial – no words, no acts – can fill the void that they left in your hearts,” his prayer is “that 10 years later, their memory is able to bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.”

“I hope you take comfort in knowing that a grateful nation understands that your loved ones gave their lives in pursuit of the noblest of earthly goals: defending their country, defending their families, sacrificing their lives so we can live ours,” he continued.

More from Vice President Biden’s remarks:

“Even as we struggle with this tragedy, even as we grapple with the profound loss and devastating grief, we can look up at the heavens and think of these heroes and know, know with certitude that there is not a single, solitary tragedy that America cannot overcome.  There is not a single moment of hardship that cannot be transformed into one of national strength.  The seeds of doubt, planted by those who wish to harm us, will instead grow into flowering meadows like this one where we stand in today, for they cannot defeat the American spirit.  We know this with certainty.  We know it with certainty, because it’s the history of the journey of this country at every stage of our history.”…

“As President Clinton knows, my mother used to say, ‘Courage lies in every heart.’  And she would go on to say, ‘And the expectation is that, Joey, one day it will be summoned.’  ‘Courage lies in every heart, and one day it will be summoned.’  On September 11, 2001, at 9:57 a.m., it was summoned and 40 incredible men and women answered the call.  They gave their lives and, in doing so, gave this country a new life.”

“We owe them.  We owe you a debt we can never repay.”

In addition to remarks from Presidents Bush and Clinton, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Director of the National Parks Jon Jarvis, President of the Families of Flight 93 Gordon Felt, Chairman of the Flight 93 Memorial Chris Sullivan and Chairman of the Flight 93 Advisory Committee John Reynolds, the ceremony also included a remembrance from Reverend Daniel Coughlin – the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives on the day of the attacks – as well as performances by Sarah McLachlan.

Following the dedication ceremony, the Vice President and Dr. Biden dropped by the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Station where they visited with firefighters and their families at a barbeque. Outside the station is the cross made of beams from the World Trade Center that the Vice President referenced in his remarks.

VP Biden at Shanksville Fire Department Vice President Joe Biden stops by the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department to thank the firefighers, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN AT DEDICATION OF FLIGHT 93 MEMORIAL

Shanksville, Pennsylvania

 

2:25 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Americans, I’m honored to be standing here today, standing with two former Presidents.

President Clinton, as he said, the passengers on Flight 93 knew that our common humanity is what united us most.  Well, Mr. President, the same can be said of you.  You spent your time as President, and the years since, deeply committed to embracing and strengthening our common humanity.  (Applause.)  And, Mr. President, we all thank you for what you’ve done and what you continue to do.

Let me also recognize a man responsible for bringing our country together at a time when it could have been torn apart, for making it clear that America could not be brought to her knees, and helping us stand tall and strike back — President George W. Bush.  (Applause.)  In the darkest hour of our generation, your voice and leadership, Mr. President, helped us find our way.  And for that, you deserve our gratitude for a long, long time.  (Applause.)

And I say now to the families that are gathered here today, I know what it’s like to receive that call out of the blue, like a bolt out of the blue.  And I know this is a bittersweet moment for you.  And I want to tell you, you have a lot more courage than I had.  You have a lot more courage just by being here today, because I know, and many others know, how hard it is to relive these moments, because it brings everything back in stark, stark relief and stark detail.

But I also know, like your loved ones, what you probably don’t know, that you are literally an inspiration to the thousands of people across this country who right now are feeling the loss of an intense tragedy that they’re suffering.  They know, looking at you, watching you on television today, that there’s hope to be found after tragedy, that there’s rebirth in the face of death.  You, in a sense, are as courageous as your family members were.  And we owe you all for being here today, just the act of being here.  (Applause.)

We’re here today to remember and honor 40 men and women who gave their lives so others could live theirs — decent, honorable women and men who never imagined 10 years ago tomorrow that when they said goodbye to their children, when they kissed their loved ones goodbye and walked through that door, that they were doing it for the very last time.

They didn’t know the horror that awaited them, but they confronted unimaginable fear and terror with a courage that has been summoned only by the truest and the rarest of American heroes — 40 names etched on each of those panels on the wall, the Wall of Names.  But, more than that, their names are going to be, as President Bush said, etched forever into American history.  They join an incredibly elite list of women and men, and a long history filled with ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things — men and women of undaunted courage, uncommon resolve, and a stubborn perseverance in the face of unfathomable challenge.

We teach our children that these are qualities ingrained into our national character as Americans.  And I believe they are.  They animate our national identity.  And I believe they will continue to define America, because of the example of the men and women who we pay tribute today, the passengers and the crew of Flight 93.

None of them asked for what happened.  They didn’t go on that plane — they didn’t board that plane to fight a war.  But when they heard the news, when they found out what happened in New York, they knew that they were going through, it was something more than a hijacking.  They knew it was the opening shot in a new war.

And so, they acted.  They acted as citizen patriots have acted since the beginning of our country.  They stood up and they stood their ground.  They thought, like Captain Parker said at Lexington, and I quote him, “If they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

As many times as I recall, and all of you who are not family members like me, have recalled this incident time and again over the last 10 years, I never fail to be astonished, literally astonished by the courage they demonstrated.

And so, we stand where it began.  We think of them.  We think of our nation.  We think of our history and we think of the future.  And we think of it, because of them, with a confidence knowing that ordinary citizens will continue to stare down fear, overwhelm evil, and bring forth hope from what seems to be none.  And although it will continue to amaze us and inspire us when it happens, it should not surprise us.  For that heroism is who we are.  And that courage lies deepest and beats loudest in the heart of this nation.

We know that these 40 men and women were more than ordinary Americans to all of you sitting in front of me.  They were more than passengers and crews.  They were already heroes.  They were already heroes to you.

They were the father that tucked you in bed at night.  They were the wife who knew your fears before you even expressed them.  They were the brother who lifted you up.  They were the daughter who made you laugh.  They were the son who made you proud.  They are irreplaceable.  I know that.  We know that.

And we know, and I know, that no memorial — no words, no acts — can fill the void that they left in your hearts.  My prayer for you is that 10 years later, their memory is able to bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.  And I hope you take comfort in knowing that a grateful nation understands that your loved ones gave their lives in pursuit of the noblest of earthly goals:  defending their country, defending their families, sacrificing their lives so we could live ours.  Those of us who were in Washington that day, without knowing it for sure at the time, now know we owe them an overwhelming special, personal debt of gratitude.

The collective spirit of your mother, your father, your brother, your husband, your wife, your sister, your best friend — that spirit lives on not only in you, but in your country.  It lives on in the Cross of Steel made from the World Trade Center beams, placed on a Pentagon-shaped platform that rests proudly outside the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department.  (Applause.)  That Cross of Steel is an enduring symbol of the steel and the spine of this region, and the spine of this country.

And it definitely lives on in a new generation of warriors — the 9/11 Generation, inspired by what happened here, 2.8 million young Americans since 9/11, that 9/11 generation, have joined the United States Armed Forces — thousands giving their lives and tens of thousands being wounded to finish the war that began right here.

Maya Angelou wrote, and I quote, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived.  However, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

Ladies and gentlemen — we are not here to unlive history.  We are here to honor those whose courage made history and is going to inspire generations of Americans to come.

So, I say to you, even as we struggle with this tragedy, even as we grapple with the profound loss and devastating grief, we can look up at the heavens and think of these heroes and know, know with certitude that there is not a single, solitary tragedy that America cannot overcome.  There is not a single moment of hardship that cannot be transformed into one of national strength.  The seeds of doubt, planted by those who wish to harm us, will instead grow into flowering meadows like this one where we stand in today, for they cannot defeat the American spirit.  We know this with certainty.  We know it with certainty, because it’s the history of the journey of this country at every stage of our history.  (Applause.)

As President Clinton knows, my mother used to say, “Courage lies in every heart.”  And she would go on to say, “And the expectation is that, Joey, one day it will be summoned.”  “Courage lies in every heart, and one day it will be summoned.”  On September 11, 2001, at 9:57 a.m., it was summoned and 40 incredible men and women answered the call.  They gave their lives and, in doing so, gave this country a new life.

We owe them.  We owe you a debt we can never repay.  Thank you all.  Thank you, family members.  And may God bless you.  And may God protect our troops.  (Applause.)

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