09.11.10 12:42 PM ET
9/11: Nine Years Later
President Obama put a wreath at the Pentagon and Michelle Obama joined Laura Bush in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to memorialize the victims of the terrorist attacks. View photos of today’s ceremonies.
President Obama marked the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks at the Pentagon, saying the U.S. would never hand victory to “a sorry band of men” with a twisted vision of Islam. "Today we declare once more we will never hand them that victory,” Obama said, “for our cause is just, our spirit is strong and our resolve unwavering." While honoring the 184 people who died when a plane smashed into the Pentagon, the president was resolute, saying the hijackers had hoped to “exploit our freedoms, but we will not sacrifice the liberties we cherish… They may wish to drive us apart, but we will not give in to their hatred and prejudice.” Obama said the U.S. would never be at war with Islam.
Gallery: 9/11 Anniversary Events
Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush spoke in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at a memorial service for the men and women aboard United Airlines Flight 93 who rushed the cockpit and prevented a fourth attack in September 11, 2001. “On this day, Americans have no division,” Bush said as she honored the heroism of nine years ago. “In the face of terror, Americans chose to overcome evil.” The ceremony included a moment of silence for the 40 passengers and crew on the flight, and a reading of their names. Obama said their courage had inspired many to serve their country, whether in uniform or in bettering their communities. "I come here today not just as first lady, on behalf of my husband and a grateful nation,” Obama said. "I come as an American, filled with a sense of awe at the heroism of my fellow citizens… It was clear that these 40 individuals were no strangers to service and to sacrifice. The men and women on that plane had never met the people whose lives they would save, but they willingly made the sacrifice."
• Full coverage of the 9/11 anniversaryIn his weekly radio address President Obama called for unity on 9/11, saying, "If there is a lesson to be drawn on this anniversary, it is this: We are one nation—one people—bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals.” The president urged Americans to help people in need and give back to their communities. The remarks come amid a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., and Obama urged people to not let a few “stoke bitterness” and “blind us to what we have in common… We do not allow ourselves to be defined by fear, but by the hopes we have for our families, for our nation, and for a brighter future." The Republicans’ radio address echoed Obama’s, with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) calling for a recapturing of unity.
After a memorial ceremony in which relatives of the victims of the September 11th attacks tearfully recited loved ones’ names, activists for and against the proposed Islamic community center rallied around the building site. Around 1,000 people gathered outside City Hall before marching to an area around ground zero, chanting "Hey hey, ho ho, racism has got to go.” A smaller crowd of several hundred people set up nearby, chanting "USA, USA" and "No mosque here." The rallies have been peaceful, with occasional exchanges between pro-mosque marchers and anti-mosque passer-bys.