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Obamas lays wreath at Pentagon to observe 9/11

Echoing the words of his predecessor, President Barack Obama vowed the United States "will never falter" in the pursuit of al-Qaida as he marked the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by placing a wreath at the site of the attack on the Pentagon.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Echoing the words of his predecessor, President Barack Obama vowed the United States "will never falter" in the pursuit of al-Qaida as he marked the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by placing a wreath at the site of the attack on the Pentagon.

"Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still," Obama said under rainy skies at the memorial to the victims of the Pentagon attack. "In defense of our nation, we will never waver."

Obama has distanced himself from many of the anti-terror policies of former President George W. Bush, but his remarks recalled Bush's speech to Congress in the immediate aftermath of the attacks: "We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail."

Bush issued a statement Friday expressing his condolences to the victims and their families, and urging Americans to "renew our determination to prevent evil from returning to our shores."

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama began the day observing a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House at precisely 8:46 a.m., the moment the first jetliner struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

With rain pounding the nation's capital, the White House considered moving the commemoration indoors, but ultimately decided to observe the moment of silence outside. Nearly 200 White House staffers — from chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to kitchen workers — gathered under the heavy downpour. Moments before the president and first lady stepped outside, the rain subsided and held off as they placed their hands over their hearts and bowed their heads.

As a presidential candidate, Obama marked last year's anniversary in New York at the site of the World Trade Center attack. This year, on the first anniversary since he became commander in chief, he spoke at a memorial ceremony at Pentagon, where 184 people died.

The president said the strongest rebuke against the terrorist attackers is the nation's renewal of a 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," Obama said.

Following the ceremony, the president and first lady Michelle Obama, along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, greeted families of the victims of the Pentagon.

About 500 people attended the Pentagon observance, including families of the victims and survivors of the Pentagon attack. In New York, Vice President Joseph Biden laid flowers at the memorial at the site of the World Trade Center attack.