Speaking at the Pentagon on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, the president of the United States delivered what can only be described as a tremendously powerful and moving speech.
“Scripture tells us we count as blessed those who have persevered,” he began. “Michelle and I are humbled to be with you once again.”
“It has now been 13 years–13 years since the peace of an American morning was broken,” he said. “Thirteen years since nearly 3,000 beautiful lives were taken from us.”
At which point he memorialized the fallen, noting how even today, in small yet subtle ways, survivors still keenly feel their absence.
“[There are] 13 years of moments they would have shared with us,” he lamented. “Thirteen years of memories they would have made.”
And yet, addressing the 9/11 families directly, he offered up prayers and reflected upon their courage and resolve during these past 13 years.
“Here once more we pray, for the souls of those who remember,” he said. “For you, their families, who love them forever. And for a nation that has been inspired by your example. Your determination to carry on.”
“As Americans we draw strength from you,” he added. “Your love is the ultimate rebuke to those who attacked us.”
This love, however, is why the flame of American liberty can never be extinguished, he said.
“America endures in the tenacity of our survivors,” he affirmed. “You learned to walk again and stand again. After terrible burns, you learned to smile once more.”
Moreover, he didn't gloss over the countless sacrifices so many Americans have made: The firefighters, the policemen, the EMTs–and, crucially, our men and women in uniform–who have bravely served in harm’s way since 9/11.
“America endures in the courage of the men and women who serve under our flag,” he said. “After more than a decade of war, this 9/11 generation has answered their country’s call.”
And yet, he said, America endures for other reasons, too.
“America endures in that perennial optimism that defines us as a people,” he intoned. “Thirteen years after small, hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud.”
“Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America,” he said.