President Donald Trump said, “We pledge to work together, to fight together, and to overcome together every enemy and obstacle that’s ever in our path,” during his first 9/11 memorial service as president Monday.
Trump commemorated the 2,977 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, outside the Pentagon shortly before Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the field in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed 16 years ago. Both men struck a tone of national unity as they praised the “citizen heroes” and victims who died at the hands of terrorists at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face,” Trump said. “But in that hour of darkness, we also came together with renewed purpose. Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong.”
“The sacrifice grounds on which we stand today are a monument to our national unity and to our strength,” he said, adding that “for more than seven decades, the Pentagon has stood as a global symbol of American might.”
“Here on the west side of the Pentagon, terrorists tried to break our resolve. It’s not going to happen,” Trump continued. “But where they left a mark with fire and rubble, Americans defiantly raised the Stars and Stripes, our beautiful flag that for more than two centuries has graced our ships, flown in our skies, and led our brave heroes to victory after victory in battle.”
For his own part, Pence spoke to the bereaved family members of Flight 93’s heroes, saying, “Today as a nation, we mourn with you. We remember with you.”
“And we will never forget what happened on September 11th, 2001. Today we pause as a nation not so much to remember tragedy as to celebrate heroism and patriotism,” the vice president said. “The American people will forever be inspired by their courage and resolve. We honor them by remembering them, and we honor them by ensuring that we do all in our power as a nation to prevent such evil from ever reaching our shores again.”
Although the U.S. is still struggling with the bitter partisan divides the 2016 presidential election etched into the nation, both Trump and Pence urged their fellow Americans to honor the memory of those who died on 9/11 by striving for national unity.
In praising the American flag, the president noted that it “binds us all together as Americans who cherish our values and protect our way of life.”
“The flag that reminds us of who we are, what we stand for, and why we fight,” Trump said. “Woven into that beautiful flag is the story of our resolve. We have overcome every challenge, every single challenge, every one of them. We have triumphed over every evil and remained united as one nation under God.”
Noting that “Americans pull together” when “Americans are in need,” he also pointed to the two hurricanes have that ravaged Texas, Louisiana and Florida over the past two weeks, saying, “when we face hardship, we emerge closer, stronger. and more determined than ever.”
“America does not bend. We do not waver. And we will never, ever yield,” Trump continued. “So here at this memorial, with hearts both sad and determined, we honor every hero who keeps us safe and free. And we pledge to work together, to fight together, and to overcome together every enemy and obstacle that’s ever in our path. Our values will endure. Our people will thrive. Our nation will prevail, and the memory of our loved ones will never, ever die.”
While speaking at the crash site, Pence said that “we cannot hallow this place beyond what the heroes of Flight 93 have already done,” noting that “When the plane went down, the heroes aboard it were the first of the new generation of Americans to rise up as citizen soldiers in what would come to be known as the global war on terror.”
“It is remarkable to think that in the wake of their service and sacrifice, America itself experienced a rebirth — a rebirth of unity, of purpose and rededication of our most sacred ideal of freedom,” he said. “And I promise you, together as one nation and one people, we will drive the cancer of terrorism from the face of the earth.”
Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s commitment to stamping out the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and across the globe, saying that “Under the leadership of President Donald Trump as our commander-in-chief, our armed forces have ISIS on the run in Iraq and Syria, and we will not rest or relent until we have destroyed them at their source.”
“We fight because our families deserve to live in safety and security. We fight because our fallen heroes demand justice,” he added. “And so long as we have strength, we will honor their memories and do right by the people in the nation they died to defend.”
Noting that more than 5 million men and women have joined the U.S. military in the 16 years since 9/11 occurred, Trump said the nation “can honor their sacrifice by pledging our resolve to do whatever we must to keep our people safe.”
“American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring — and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we’ve never seen before — but we’re ensuring that they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country,” Trump said. “We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”