September 11th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama on 9/11: 'No words can ease the ache of your hearts'

(CNN) – President Barack Obama laid a wreath of white flowers Friday at the Pentagon, where 184 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001, when a hijacked jet smashed into the military icon outside the nation's capital.

"No words can ease the ache of your hearts," Obama told a crowd of relatives and friends standing under umbrellas in a steady rain. The plane, American Airlines Flight 77, struck the Pentagon's west wall. Earlier in the day, the president and first lady Michelle Obama held a
moment of silence outside the White House to mark the eighth anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks that killed 2,752 people.

At the Pentagon, Obama was introduced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who spoke of the "great pinnacle of sacrifice" shown that day.

"Eight Septembers have come and gone," Obama said. "Nearly 3,000 days have passed, almost one for each one who has been taken from us."

"We recall the beauty and meaning of their lives," he said. "No passage of time, no dark skies can dull the meaning of that moment" when they died.

"Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this violent act," Obama said.

The nation paused at the moments when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon - twin symbols of America's financial and military might - and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Officials believe the target of the latter was either the White House or the Capitol.

There was silence at the site of the former World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ET, the time when the first plane struck the North Tower, followed by another at 9:03 a.m. ET, when a jet struck the South Tower.

Family members and friends of the dead read their names in solemn roll calls at each site as bells tolled. In London, England, U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman and his wife, Marjorie,
laid a wreath at the September 11 Memorial Garden in Grosvenor Square.

At ground zero in New York City, a woman whose husband worked on the 94th floor of one of the World Tower buildings recalled that day.

"The pain can still be so sharp. ... I realize how much my life has changed," she said, mentioning that her children have now grown and she has grandchildren.

Her husband left many lessons, she said, including "the courage to be kind."

Just before the first moment of silence, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the newly established September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, designated by Obama.

"Appropriately, the city of New York has taken up that call. From this day forward we will guard the memories of those who died by rekindling the spirit of service and help keep us strong," Bloomberg said.

At the Web site set up for that day, people were listing their charitable acts.

One man who spoke to the crowd at ground zero remembered his brother, a partner at a law firm located near the Twin Towers and a longtime volunteer firefighter. He rushed toward the South Tower, "toward the inferno," to do what he could to help, the brother said.

"He was there when the tower collapsed." In Shanksville, a ceremony was under way to remember the 40 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, who died when the hijacked plane went down in a field there. The passengers and crew, aware of the fate of at least some of the other hijacked planes, fought the men who had taken control of their aircraft, leading to its crash.

Colin Powell, former U.S. secretary of state, was to give the keynote address. A $58 million memorial being constructed at the 2,200-acre site is to open on the 10th anniversary of the attack.

On the eighth anniversary of the attacks, the level of concern about terrorism in the United States is roughly half of what it was immediately after September 11 and is down 20 points since the five-year anniversary in 2006, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Thirty-four percent of Americans think an act of terrorism is likely in the United States over the next few weeks. More than six in 10 have confidence in the Obama administration's ability to protect the nation.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. makesUwonder

    God Bless each and every one of the souls that lost their lives that day. I will NEVER forget 9/11.....NEVER!

    September 11, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. rr

    Let us all, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Socialist, etc be resolved to destory Al Quaeda and the Taliban whever they are. We should chase them to the gates of hell itself, and if it means angering our so called allies by bombing targets within their borders, so be it.

    Let us not forget we are at war with terrorists and radicals who will stop at nothing to kill those who disagree with them or stand in their way of establishing a world-wide radical Islamist state.

    September 11, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. ajks

    Thank you for your words, Mr. President.

    September 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Anita ~ Columbus, Ohio

    May the Good Lord completely consume all of His children whose hearts ache at this moment in time with the peace, love and hope that only He can give.

    September 11, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Jane/Seattle

    I watched these proceedings on the TV this AM. it is moving to reflect upon this killing in our own country. However, i also reflect upon the heinous suffering in this regeon under attack by this country for revenge. many families impacted by this event in our history are willing to forgive. it is not a people who attacked us, byt a group of people. The many dead all over this world due to vengence (sp?), which under Christian teachings, belongs to this God as written in the guiding book, the Bible. All of our killings will never make us safe as the borders are man-made as we know this Earth is one part of our Universe. Peace and I offer my condolences to Planet Earth for our wrong course.

    September 11, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Why anyone would think that the smartest President we've had in decades would neglect to observe 9/11 is beyond me.

    As a New Yorker, and an American, I add my prayers to the thousands for all of the lives lost on that day, and in the subsequent Iraqui war.

    September 11, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. gr8fuldaniel

    "No words can ease the ache of your hearts," ~Obama

    BUT;
    'We will open a new independent investigation of the 911 crime, and punish those responsible, both foreign and domestic. Those who are suspects will not investigate themselves. How silly would that be? '

    ....would ease some aching hearts

    September 11, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Moderate Democrat

    Thank god we have a president that was able to keep us safe the entire first nine months of his presidency, and saved the auto industry, 1million jobs, 400,000 families from being homeless, rebounded the stock market and on track to reach the first health care reform bill since it began being discussed in the halls of congress more then 100 years ago.

    Wish we had had a good president the previous eight years, can't imagine how much better we would be, not to mention the 3000 people that would still be alive.

    September 11, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Jack

    God Bless all the Victims of 9/11.

    September 11, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    The tragic events of September 11th is a specimen of false flag terrorism. The people who are responsible for the deaths of thousands, the suffering of so many more and unjust wars may never be brought to justice.

    Like most of my other posts, I know this won't get posted. But I have no problem conveying my feelings to the CNN moderator. At least, somebody is listening, even if it's only you.

    September 11, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Tom

    Obama did NOT run a training excercise on the Potomac. That was the Coast Guard. Remember that there was a "Terroist Training Activity" ACTIVELY running on 9/11/2001 which confused the Air Command at Norad when the planes first hit.

    September 11, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |