9/11 Ceremonies, Speeches Mark a Decade Since Attacks

BY News Desk  September 11, 2011 at 3:15 PM EDT



Updated 8:20 p.m. ET | President Obama said at the conclusion of a day of events and memorial visits commemorating the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, that the past 10 years since the terrorist attacks show that “America does not give in to fear.”

More excerpts from President Obama’s speech at the Kennedy Center’s Concert for Hope:

“Our troops have been to lands unknown to many Americans a decade ago – to Kandahar and Kabul; to Mosul and Basra. But our strength is not measured in our ability to stay in these places; it comes from our commitment to leave those lands to free people and sovereign states, and our desire to move from a decade of war to a future of peace.” …………………………………………………………………………………….. “These ten years have shown that we hold fast to our freedoms. Yes, we are more vigilant against those who threaten us, and there are inconveniences that come with our common defense. Debates – about war and peace; about security and civil liberties – have often been fierce these last 10 years. But it is precisely the rigor of these debates, and our ability to resolve them in a way that honors our values and our democracy, that is a measure of our strength.” …………………………………………………………………………………….. “These past ten years underscore the bonds between all Americans. We have not succumbed to suspicion nor have we succumbed to mistrust. After 9/11, President Bush to his great credit made clear what we reaffirm today: the United States will never wage war against Islam or any religion. Immigrants come here from all parts of the globe.” …………………………………………………………………………………….. “These past 10 years tell a story of resilience. The Pentagon is repaired, and filled with patriots working in common purpose. Shanksville is the scene of friendships forged between residents of that town, and families who lost loved ones there. New York remains a vibrant capital of the arts and industry, fashion and commerce.” ……………………………………………………………………………………..

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET | President Obama speech at Sunday night’s Concert for Hope at the Kennedy Center will touch on things that have changed in the nation – heightened security and an acknowledgment of persistent threats – and those that have remained unchanged – a commitment to liberty and freedom, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

He also planned to call attention to the men and women of the Armed Services who are sacrificing to take the war to al-Qaida, Earnest told reporters.

The president was still working on the speech as he made the rounds earlier in the day to all three 9/11 memorials in New York City, near Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Original Story:

Memorial ceremonies and tributes Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Following a drumbeat, bagpipes and the unfurling of an American flag, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg began a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Sunday morning to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The ceremony at the Pentagon began at 9:30 am with the National Anthem and the singing of Amazing Grace by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters Chorus.


“Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights,” Bloomberg said. “Since then, we have lived in sunlight and in shadow.”

Across the stage, President Obama stepped up to the podium and read Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” it began.


Bells rang twice at the moment when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center 10 years age. After a moment of silence, family members began reciting the names of those who were killed. The first name recited was Gordon M. Aamoth, Jr.

“They were they were our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and parents,” Bloomberg said. “They were the ones who rushed into help.”

President George W. Bush took the podium after a moment of silence at 9:03 a.m., the time when United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. He read from a famous letter from President Abraham Lincoln to the mother of five sons who died in the Civil War: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavements, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom.”


Meanwhile, family members entered the new Memorial Plaza, accompanied by cellist Yo Yo Ma and the continued reading of names.

At 9:37 a.m., the moment when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, Mayor Bloomberg held another moment of silence, quoting from the poet John Donne: “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” He added: “To mark the two strikes against the buildings in New York. The fall of the two World Trade towers. The crash of Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. And now for the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. This year, we will hear the bell toll six times.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo quoted poet Archibald MacLeish: “There are those who say that the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream. They are right, It is the American dream.” He also quoted a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, before World War II, where he outlined four basic freedoms and said “to that high concept, there can be no end save victory.”

Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of the 2 million men and women have deployed to combat since 9/11: “Volunteers, all,” he said. “Some of them knew a colleague killed here. Some of them were but grade schoolers on that day. All of them have remained dedicated to making sure a day like that never happens again.”


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also paid tribute to those who have served in the military since Sept. 11. “We will never forget the human cost paid by this generation,” he said. “More than 6,200 soldiers, sailors, airman and marines were lost in the line of duty. Like those taken from us on 9/11, we will always remember that they paid the ultimate sacrifice for America.”


At 9:59 a.m., a fourth moment of silence marked the moment when the South Tower collapsed. New Jersey governor Chris Christie then read from Mary Lee Hall’s poem, “Turn to Life.” A flutist played “Amazing Grace” before the fifth moment of silence for United Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa. at 10:03 a.m.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki called for recognition of “the heroes we’ve lost since that date defending our freedom and then men and women today who risks their lives here and abroad to defend our freedom.”

He concluded by quoting from a poem by Poet Laureate Billy Collins a year after the attacks: “So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.”

Back at the Pentagon, Vice President Joe Biden gave an emotional speech commemorating the “new generation of patriots – the 9/11 generation:”

“As they came of age, they showed up,” he said. “They showed up to fight for their country and they’re still showing up. 2,800,000 of that 9/11 generation moved to join the military…to finish the war that began here that day…The 9/11 generation ranks among greatest our generation has produced and it was born…it was born right here on 9/11.”


Biden also appealed directly to people who lost loved ones in the attacks. “No memorial, no ceremony, no words will ever fill the void left in your hearts for their loss. My prayer to you is that 10 years later when you think of them, 10 years later when you think of them that it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.”

Later in the day, President Obama laid a wreath at the Pentagon memorial, followed by a moment of silence. A brass quartet then played “Amazing Grace.”

In Shanksville, thousands gathered for a second day of ceremonies, which kicked off with the Johnstown Symphony Children’s Choir. Just before noon, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama placed a wreath at the Shanksville memorial and stood by it silently for a moment before walking away.


On Saturday, too, more than 3,000 people gathered in Shanksville to honor the 40 airline passengers who died when United flight 93 crashed into an open field, with the dedication of a memorial.


Back in New York, after a moment of silence marking the fall of the North Tower at 10:28 a.m., former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “The perspective that we need and have needed to get through the last ten years and the years that remain are best expressed by the words of God as inscribed in the book of Ecclesiastes.” He read from an often-quoted passage in the third book: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

“God bless every soul that we lost, God bless the family members who have to endure that loss, and God guide us to our reunion in heaven,” he said.


Paul Simon performed “Bridge Over Troubled Water” before the reading of names continued.

Posted at 8 a.m. ET | The Official World Trade Center Site Memorial Ceremony and Remembrance began at 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday in, Liberty Plaza Park, Manhattan, N.Y.

Separate ceremonies are taking place at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa. Find a listing of events, prayer vigils and remembrances.

At dawn on Sunday, a flag was unfurled at the site of the Pentagon and will stay there until sunset tonight. President Obama is expected to travel to the site later this afternoon to lay a wreath at the Pentagon Memorial.

The NewsHour has a special report tonight at 8 p.m. ET, “America Remembers 9/11.” More information on that and several other reports about the 9/11 anniversary can be found here.