Thirteen years ago, at 9:05 a.m., White House Chief of Staff Andy Card interrupted President George W. Bush, who was reading "The Pet Goat" to a class of schoolchildren in Sarasota, Fla. Card whispered in Bush's ear, "America is under attack."
The day after the 9/11 attacks, The Wall Street Journal's John Bussy described what it was like to see victims of the World Trade Center attacks jumping from the burning towers. "Some fell swinging their arms and legs, looking down as the street came up at them," he wrote. "Others fell on their backs, peering upward toward the flames and sky. They dropped like deadweight, several seconds, hopeless and unhelpable."
Thirteen years later, as the U.S. gears up to do battle with a new terrorist threat (albeit not necessarily a direct one), President Obama commemorated the lives of the nearly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Speaking at the Pentagon, where 184 innocent people were killed, Obama spoke directly to the families of the victims.
"As Americans, we draw strength from you, for your love is the ultimate rebuke to the hatred of those who attacked us that bright blue morning," he said. "They sought to do more than bring down buildings or murder our people. They sought to break our spirit, and to prove to the world that their power to destroy was greater than our power to persevere and to build. But you and America proved them wrong."
Obama took optimism in the amount of time that has passed since the attacks.
"Beginning tomorrow, there will be teenagers—young adults—who were born after 9/11. It's remarkable. And while these young Americans did not know the horrors of that day, the lives had been shaped by all the days since," he said. "What gives me hope is that these young Americans will shape all of the days to come."