Obama pays tributes to 9/11 victims

No turning of seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day

In remembrance: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle  take part in a moment of silence marking the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington on Friday. REUTERS

Obama then crossed the Potomac River to speak briefly at a ceremony at the Pentagon, where American Airlines Flight 77, hijacked by five terrorists after taking off from Dulles International Airport bound for Los Angeles, crashed at 9:37 am. An outdoor memorial now marks the spot with 184 benches, each representing one victim of the attack — 59 on the plane, and 125 on the ground.

“No turning of the seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day,” he told the crowd, which included Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, top military officers, and families of the victims.

He called it a time not only to remember the nation’s losses of the day and in the wars that ensued, but also to “renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still.”
Earlier in the day, it had been raining heavily until just before President and Michelle Obama walked out onto the South Lawn of the White House at 8:46 am, the moment the first hijacked jet struck the World Trade Centre. A bell sounded three solemn chimes as they bowed their heads.

Dressed in black, they held their hands to their hearts while a bugler sounded Taps.
The president took a deep breath before he and Michelle turned silently and walked back into the White House. About 200 staff members, from household employees to top aides like Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, stood silently by for a few moments more. Then the rain resumed.

Several other remembrances are scheduled. At noon, there is a service at the Washington National Cathedral, and several organisations are bringing together students and others for a day of volunteer service, a new way this year of commemorating September 11.

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