Attack On Pentagon Marked
AUDIE CORNISH, Host:
And we just heard the opening strains of the band at the Pentagon. Some of the speakers we expect to hear today are Vice President Joe Biden and the Defense secretary, Leon Panetta.
People are still gathering at the Pentagon. That ceremony is set to begin soon. As the ceremony starts - shortly after, there will be another moment of silence in anticipation honor of the observance of the time that American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We welcome you to the Pentagon Observance Ceremony, in remembrance of the 184 lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77, on September 11th, 2001. Please stand and welcome the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden; the secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.
CORNISH: You're listening to live, special coverage of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Right now, we are actually listening to the opening of the ceremony at the Pentagon in Virginia. Vice President Joe Biden is headed to the stage.
MAN: Please remain standing for the presentation of colors, the performance of the National Anthem, and the invocation delivered by the United State's Army chief of shaplains, Major General Donald Rutherford.
CORNISH: Also on the stage, we see Admiral Mike Mullen.
TOM GJELTEN: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ,and Leon Panetta, the new Defense secretary, having recently taken that position after being director of the CIA; along with Vice President Joe Biden. And the colors are being carried to the stage now. The flags, of course, the presentation of colors is a long and very important tradition at military ceremonies. And this will be followed, then, by the National Anthem.
CORNISH: Some of the other events expected at this ceremony - there will be a laying of wreaths, and a performance of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STAR SPANGLED BANNER")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
CORNISH: That was the National Anthem being performed at the Pentagon, where the ceremonies begin in honor of the September 11th attacks. On stage, Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Right now, the Honor Guard and presentation of the colors.
MAN: Let us pray. Oh, God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, we are grateful that you have always sustained and protected our great nation. Our forefathers looked to you, their creator, when they declared our independence. Year after year and generation to generation you have led and blessed America. Even on that dark day 10 years ago, you were with us in the midst of heartache and gloom of the time, kept the light of freedom shining in our own hearts.
We gather this day on this 10th anniversary to remember the people and events of September 11th. Remember those who have lost their lives on that morning, the families that mourn them with loss. Lord God, open our hearts today and every day to pay tribute to those who have died. We remember to honor those who rendered aid with such courage and compassion. Remember those who served in the days that followed, and now serve on the front lines of freedom.
Lord, gather us in this moment today. We covet your presence. Remind us that truly, you are our hope for years to come. We ask this and pray, as always, to your holy name. Amen.
CORNISH: And that was the U.S. Army chief of chaplains, Major General Donald Rutherford.
MAN: Please be seated. Ten years ago, at 9:37 a.m., the Pentagon was attacked. Please join us in observing a moment of silence, to remember those who perished.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
CORNISH: A moment of silence, observed at the Pentagon ceremony for the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
CORNISH: It's approximately 9:37. We're honoring a moment of silence in observance of American Airlines Flight 77, which struck the Pentagon 10 years ago today.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMAZING GRACE")
MILITARY CHORUS: (Singing) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
(Singing) The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.
MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.
CORNISH: Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests and most especially families, friends and loved ones of those killed near this spot on this day back in 2001, good morning and welcome. Let me begin by offering, on behalf of the 2.2 million men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces, by passing my deepest condolences to you for the loss you suffered, and the grief you still endure.
No music can assuage, no tongue can express, no prayer alone may dampen the yearning that must fire yet inside you. Lives ended in this...
CORNISH: Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at the Pentagon ceremony in honor of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.
MULLEN: ...hopes were tragically dashed. You come here, we all come here, to remember those hopes, and to mourn and to honor. But the greatest honor we bestow, the finest tribute we pay, lies not in our gathering. It lies in our hearts; it lies in our deeds. It lies in the manner in which, and the degree to which, we have preserved the very ideals that others tried to kill when they killed innocent men, women and children.
I was struck by the words of a young woman who just wrote a letter to her dead father, a firefighter killed at the World Trade Center. Dear Dad, she said, I still feel your presence. You are with me every day. You inspire me to live my life, to help others and to be grateful for each moment. I don't know what the next 10 years will bring, but I do know that I have enough strength, wisdom and support to take on anything.
Tara Feinberg remains proud of her father, Alan, and of the sacrifice he made so that others need not. And she has committed herself to proving worthy of that sacrifice. Hers is truly the greatest monument, the most enduring memorial, as it is with all of you. You, the families, have shown the rest of us the way, quietly honoring the memory of your loved ones by how you live, and what you do.
It's in the children and grandchildren with Major League dreams, the college degrees earned, the businesses started, the weddings celebrated, the charity given, and the love and the laughter shared. These are the things the terrorists could not eradicate. They could bring down the wall...
CORNISH: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
MULLEN: ...but they could not bring down America. They could kill our citizens, but they could not kill our citizenship. And in that spirit, and with that pride, a whole new generation has been inspired to serve - many of them in uniform. Indeed, from this place of wrath and tears, America's military ventured forth as the long arm and clenched fist of an angry nation at war. And we have remained at war ever since, visiting upon our enemies the vengeance they were due, and providing for the American people the common defense they demand. Two million men and women have deployed to combat since 9/11, volunteers all. Some of them knew a colleague killed here; some of them were but grade-schoolers on that day. All of them have remained dedicated to making sure a day like that never happens again.
They've done this with great skill and bravery, but they have also done it with a realization learned over time and at great cost, that sometimes we defend best our national interests when we help others defend their own; and that sometimes in war, it isn't the enemy lives you take that matter most but rather, the innocent lives you save.
It's a lesson you have helped teach us. And when that war takes the lives of our troops, when it snuffs out the futures of so many bright young stars, we again look to your example. We wrap our arms around the families of our fallen the way you have wrapped yours around each other.
The Scottish poet Thomas Campbell, in his poem "Hallowed Ground," tells us that to live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. Today, we stand on this hallowed ground to honor those who still live on in our hearts. But as we mark the end of this decade of war and remembrance, I hope we will also follow in Tara Feinberg's footsteps, heeding the better angels of our nature, never forgetting, being grateful for each moment, helping others and most of all, living life and living it well. That is victory. Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
CORNISH: That's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
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