Leading the nation in remembering the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that terror groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State will never be able to defeat the US and asked Americans not to let “others divide us”.
“Groups like al Qaeda, like ISIL, know that we will never be able — they will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America,” Obama said at a memorial service for 9/11 victims at the Pentagon.
“So, instead, they’ve tried to terrorise in the hopes that they can stoke enough fear that we turn on each other and that we change who we are or how we live,” he said.
“And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every colour, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum,” he said.
“Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths. This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to,” Obama said.
Across the country, Americans are coming together in service and remembrance, he said.
“We run our fingers over the names in memorial benches here at the Pentagon. We walk the hallowed grounds of a Pennsylvania field. We look up at a gleaming tower that pierces the New York City skyline. But in the end, the most enduring memorial to those we lost is ensuring the America that we continue to be — that we stay true to ourselves, that we stay true to what’s best in us, that we do not let others divide us,” said the US President, apparently referring to the Republican presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
Obama participated in a wreath ceremony outside of the Pentagon. He was joined by the Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Joseph Dunford. A trumpet played as Obama stood solemnly in front of the wreath with his hand over his heart.
A moment of silence was observed at 9:32 in remembrance those who perished in the Pentagon attack.
“Today, we return to the site of an attack motivated by barbarism and hate. An attack that rattled the world, that shook this mighty building, and that took 184 lives from us here at the Pentagon as well as thousands more in New York and Pennsylvania,” Carter said in his address.
“Indeed, when someone strikes at the heart of what we stand for, we respond with the full might of the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Because our memory is long and our reach and resolve are endless, our enemies cannot hide, they cannot escape, they cannot endure. Wherever they are, they will surely, no matter how long it takes, come to feel the righteous fist of American might,” Carter said.
“Since September 11, 2001, millions of America’s best young men and women have volunteered to respond to those attacks and defend what’s best about America and civilization itself – ‘our freedoms, our values, our care for life, and our way of life’, Carter said.
In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Americans were not the only ones who fell victim.
“The citizens of more than sixty countries perished in the strikes on the World Trade Center. That astonishing toll reflects both the inter-connected nature of modern society and the need to persist in our comprehensive and united response to the global threat posed by violent extremist groups,” he said.
“Over the past decade and a half, the United States has led that response. With partners on every continent, we are helping to defeat terrorists by targeting their leadership, shrinking their territory, choking their finances, disrupting their networks, and discrediting their lies,” he added.
The US, he said, will neither be intimidated by terrorists, nor draw back from the business of the world, nor retreat from its democratic values.
“Instead, we have grown even more vigilant, even more resolved, and even more determined to protect our people, assist our friends, and defend civilization from those who would tear it down,” he said.