- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2011

On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Obama led the nation Sunday in a full day of commemoration by honoring the nearly 3,000 victims in services in New York City, Pennsylvania and just outside the nation’s capital.

“These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear,” Mr. Obama said last night at a commemorative concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington. “These past 10 years have shown America’s resolve to defend its citizens and our way of life. Our character as a nation has not changed.”

The president praised the sacrifices of the U.S. armed forces since that day 10 years ago.

“The sacrifices of these men and women, and of our military families, reminds us that the wages of war are great; that while their service to our nation is full of glory, war itself is never glorious,” he said.

Observing a moment of silence at the National September 11 Memorial in New York on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, are (from right) President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Observing a moment of silence at the National September 11 Memorial in ... more >

The president and first lady Michelle Obama began the day by joining former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, at a reflecting pool at the site of the north tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, where Islamist terrorists crashed planes into the twin towers 10 years earlier. They viewed the names of victims etched into a wall and greeted relatives of those who perished.

Mr. Obama read Psalm 46, beginning with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” An aide said the president chose the Scripture passage because of its message about persevering through difficult challenges and emerging stronger.

The Obamas and Bushes stood behind bulletproof protection at the event in New York as they listened to relatives of the victims reading the names of the dead in alphabetical order. A White House aide said the Obamas were particularly moved by the children of victims, and that the president felt that the design of the ground zero memorial “meets the moment.”

In an interview taped earlier, Mr. Obama reflected on the meaning of the anniversary by telling NBC News, “America came through this thing in a way that was consistent with our character.

“We’ve made mistakes,” Mr. Obama said. “Some things haven’t happened as quickly as they needed to. But overall, we took the fight to al Qaeda. We preserved our values; we preserved our character.”

Mr. Bush, who was commander in chief on the day America was attacked, read a letter from President Lincoln in 1864 to a mother who lost sons in the Civil War.

“I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, 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 upon the altar of freedom,” the letter said.

While Mr. Obama stood with his predecessor on Sunday, he made clear in his weekend radio address that he is determined to follow a different path from Mr. Bush’s in fighting al Qaeda.

“They wanted to draw us in to endless wars, sapping our strength and confidence as a nation,” Mr. Obama said. “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.”

Among the audience at ground zero was Chundera Epps, whose brother Christopher was on the 98th floor of the north tower when the plane hit.

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