September 10, 2012
By Terri Moon Cronk
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) – In his weekly address today, President Barack Obama paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks and honored the first responders and U.S. service members who have fought and sacrificed ever since to keep the United States safe.
As the anniversary approaches, Obama said, this is a time to remember the men, women and children lost in the attacks, the families they left behind, and a chance to honor the courage of the first responders who risked their lives and the American troops who ensure the nation’s security.
“On that clear September morning, as America watched the towers fall, the Pentagon burn, and the wreckage smoldering in a Pennsylvania field, we were filled with questions,” Obama said. “Where had the attacks come from, and how would America respond? Would they fundamentally weaken the country we love? Would they change who we are?”
The last decade has been a difficult one, the president said, but the nation and its people answered those questions and have come back stronger.
“We took the fight to al-Qaida, decimated their leadership, and put them on a path to defeat,” he said. “And thanks to the courage and skill of our intelligence personnel and armed forces, Osama bin Laden will never threaten America again.”
Instead of pulling back from the world, he noted, the United States strengthened its alliances while improving security at home.
“As Americans, we refuse to live in fear,” Obama said. “Today, a new tower rises above the New York skyline. And our country is stronger, safer and more respected in the world.”
Rather than changing who Americans are, the president said, the attacks brought out the best in the nation’s people.
“More than 5 million members of the 9/11 generation have worn America’s uniform over the past decade, and we’ve seen an outpouring of goodwill towards our military, veterans, and their families,” Obama said. “Together, they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them.”
Obama cited some of the milestones U.S. troops have achieved since the 9/11 attacks.
“We’ve ended the war in Iraq and brought our troops home. We brought an end to the Taliban regime. We’ve trained Afghan security forces, and forged a partnership with a new Afghan government,” he said. “And by the end [of] 2014, the transition in Afghanistan will be complete, and our war there will be over.”
Instead of turning inward with grief, Americans honored the memory of those lost by giving back to the nation’s communities by serving those in need, and reaffirming the values at the heart of who they are as a people, Obama said.
“That’s why we mark Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance — because we are one American family,” he said. “And we look out for each other not just on the difficult days, but every day.”
The legacy of 9/11 is reflected in how the American people can say with confidence that no adversary and no act of terrorism can change who they are, Obama said.
“We are Americans, and we will protect and preserve this country we love,” he said. “On this solemn anniversary, let’s remember those we lost, let us reaffirm the values they stood for, and let us keep moving forward as one nation and one people.”