Obama, Romney Mark 9/11 Anniversary (With Video of President's Speech at Pentagon)
Manhattan skyline and the World Trade Center on 9/11, Photo Credit: Library of Congress
(CBS News) President Obama on Tuesday marked the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at a memorial service at the Pentagon, noting the that the "true legacy" of that day will be "a safer world, a stronger nation and a people more united than ever before."
"This anniversary gives us faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn," the president said. "No single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for."
Mr. Obama recalled the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 as "a day that began like so many others" but soon left the nation shaken to its core.
"Eleven times we have paused in remembrance and reflection in unity and in purpose," he said. "This is never an easy day, but it is especially difficult for all of you, the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives."
The president said that because of their sacrifice, the U.S. has dealt a "crippling blow" to al Qaeda, "Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again," and "our nation is safer and our people are resilient."
Before attending the Pentagon memorial service, Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House.
After leaving the Pentagon, Mr. and Mrs. Obama made an unscheduled stop at Arlington National Cemetery, where the president visited the graves in Section 60, one of the sections for those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The president and first lady walked among the chalk-white markers and put "challenge coins" - medallions bearing insignia passed out by commanders as motivation or to honor achievement - on several of the graves.
Vice President Joe Biden attended the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the airliners hijacked on 9/11 crashed. "It's a genuine honor to be back here today but like all of the families, we wish we weren't here," Biden said. "It's a bittersweet moment for the entire nation, for all of the country."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, meanwhile, will mark the anniversary when he addresses the National Guard Association in Reno, Nevada today.
Before boarding his flight to Reno this morning, Romney greeted and paid his respects to the local first responders on the tarmac at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The first responders held a moment of silence on the tarmac at 7:46 a.m. CT to mark the anniversary of the attack.
This morning, Romney released a written statement: "Eleven years ago, evil descended upon our country, taking thousands of lives in an unspeakable attack against innocents. America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind. And America shall remain ever vigilant against those who would do us harm. Today we again extend our most profound gratitude to our brave troops who have gone into battle, some never to return, so that we may live in peace. On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world."
(Below, watch the president's speech at the Pentagon)