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This morning’s dismal skies were in sharp contrast to a sunny, cloudless September 11 eight years ago, when tragedy struck America. Today, the President paid tribute to those who lost their lives at the Pentagon Wreath-Laying Ceremony.
We remember with reverence the lives we lost. We read their names. We press their photos to our hearts. And on this day that marks their death, we recall the beauty and meaning of their lives; men and women and children of every color and every creed, from across our nation and from more than 100 others. They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives. Gone in a horrible instant, they now "dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
We pay tribute to the service of a new generation -- young Americans raised in a time of peace and plenty who saw their nation in its hour of need and said, "I choose to serve"; "I will do my part." And once more we grieve. For you and your families, no words can ease the ache of your heart. No deeds can fill the empty places in your homes. But on this day and all that follow, you may find solace in the memory of those you loved, and know that you have the unending support of the American people.
The President called upon the nation reflect upon the lessons of the tragedy, and to forever hold the day in reverence:
Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still. In defense of our nation we will never waver; in pursuit of al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter.
Let us renew our commitment to all those who serve in our defense -- our courageous men and women in uniform and their families and all those who protect us here at home. Mindful that the work of protecting America is never finished, we will do everything in our power to keep America safe.
Let us renew the true spirit of that day. Not the human capacity for evil, but the human capacity for good. Not the desire to destroy, but the impulse to save, and to serve, and to build. On this first National Day of Service and Remembrance, we can summon once more that ordinary goodness of America -- to serve our communities, to strengthen our country, and to better our world.
Most of all, on a day when others sought to sap our confidence, let us renew our common purpose. Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love.
President Barack Obama pauses after placing a wreath during a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring those who perished in the 2001 terror attack. Standing with the President are Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chief Adm. Michael Mullen, right. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza