9/11 anniversary: Obama closes day with "Concert for Hope"
Closing a day of 9/11 remembrances at a “Concert for Hope” in Washington, D.C., President Obama reminded Americans Sunday evening of their resilience as he paid tribute to the losses suffered a decade ago while recalling the country’s enduring values.
“Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights,” the president said from the stage of the Kennedy Center along the banks of the Potomac River. “Yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed.”
“These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear,’ the president said, citing the rescue workers who rushed to help on Sept. 11, 2001, and the passengers who stormed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93.
Obama hailed the services of the more than 2 million Americans who have served in the volunteer military over the last decade, even as he warned of the price of war.
“Our strength is not measured in our ability to stay in these places; it comes from our commitment to leave those lands to free people and sovereign states, and our desire to move from a decade of war to a future of peace.
Obama praised the country’s ongoing debates about military interventions and civil liberties as a sign of strength.
And, quoting a woman who lost her husband and brother on 9/11 yet wrote him with pride of her two daughters’ progress at school, the president celebrated the signs that Americans have not given in to the attacks a decade ago.
“These past 10 years tell a story of resilience,” Obama concluded. “Our people still work in skyscrapers. Our stadiums are filled with fans, and our parks full of children playing ball. Our airports hum with travel, and our buses and subways take millions where they need to go. Families sit down to Sunday dinner, and students prepare for school. This land pulses with the optimism of those who set out for distant shores, and the courage of those who died for human freedom.”
The president’s short speech was his only public address on a day in which he crisscrossed the Northeast for ceremonies honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago.
Obama placed wreaths at the site of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and at a field in Shanksville, Penn., where Flight 93 crashed after passengers overcame their captors before the plane could be flown into the U.S. Capitol.
The Sunday evening concert also featured performances by mezzo soprano Denyce Graves, country star Alan Jackson and R&B legend Patti LaBelle.
Originally planned for the Washington National Cathedral, the concert was moved to the Kennedy Center after a crane working to repair earthquake damage to the cathedral toppled over last week.
--Noam N. Levey in Washington
Photo: President Obama stands after laying a wreath during a remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon. He later spoke at the "Concert for Hope." Credit: Joshua Roberts / European Pressphoto Agency