By Sophia Rosenbaum and Matthew DeLuca, NBC News
At memorials and in their schools, homes, and places of work across the country on Wednesday morning, Americans paused to remember those lost in the Sept. 11 attacks that shook the nation 12 years ago.
At 8:46 a.m. EST, crowds gathered at the site of the Twin Towers in New York City observed a moment of silence marking when the first plane crashed in the city’s downtown. President Barack Obama joined by the Vice President and First Lady also marked the moment on the lawn of the White House.
The president later observed a moment of silence at the Pentagon to mark the time at which Flight 77 struck the building, joined by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
“Let us have the strength to face down the threats that endure, different though they may be from 12 years ago, so that as long as there are those who will strike our citizens, we will stand vigilant and defend our nation,” the president said outside the Pentagon.