WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump led his first commemoration of the solemn 9/11 anniversary, declaring loud and clear that “America cannot be intimidated.”
Remembering the deaths of nearly 3,000 people that were killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda hijackers flew commercial airplanes into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Trump said that “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief” for each of the victims that were lost on that day 16 years ago.
Delivering his address at the Pentagon, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Trump warned terrorists that “America cannot be intimidated.”
He said those who try are destined to join “the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.”
He said, “The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit. But America cannot be intimidated, and those who try will join a long list of vanquished enemies who dared test our mettle.”
He added that when America is united “no force on earth can break us apart.”
Trump even offered words of comfort to those whose loved ones perished in the attacks and said, “For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don’t think about the loved one stolen from your life. Today, our entire nation grieves with you.”
He said “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief for every life taken” on 9/11.
Later on Monday, Trump and first lady Melania Trump, surrounded by White House aides and other administration officials observed a moment of silence at the White House at the exact moment that a hijacked airplane was slammed into the World Trade Center.
Trump, a native New Yorker who was in the city during the attack, has frequently used the attack to praise the city’s response to the attack, has said that the attack was worse than the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor during World War II because it targeted civilians.
He said, “Innocent men, women, and children whose lives were taken so needlessly,” and vowed that such an attack would never be repeated.
Trump has previously lauded the bravery of New York police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders who rushed to the Twin Towers to help.
He has also criticized President George W. Bush’s handling of the attacks and has accused the former president of failing in his duty to keep Americans safe.
Meanwhile, addressing an audience gathered at a 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, Vice President Mike Pence said that the passengers aboard the plane that crashed there may have saved his life.
He recalled being in Congress and learning that the Capitol was a possible target of the hijacked plane, which was 12 minutes out.
During the incident 16 years back, passengers aboard the flight that left a New Jersey airport with San Francisco as its final destination — revolted against their hijackers, who then crashed the plane in the field.
Pence added, “It was the longest 12 minutes of my life.”
He also noted, “I will always believe that I, and many others in our nation’s capital, were able to go home that day to hug our families because of the courage and selflessness of the heroes of Flight 93.”