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Leaders Honor 9/11 Victims at Ground Zero, Pentagon

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 – Four days after announcing the killing of al-Qaida leader and 9/11 attack mastermind Osama bin Laden, top administration officials remembered those killed in the attacks with ceremonies today at ground zero in New York City and at the Pentagon here.

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President Barack Obama stands with police and firefighters in New York City before laying a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at ground zero and meeting with families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks in New York, May 5, 2011. White House photo by Pete Souza

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“What happened on Sunday -- because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence -- sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say -- that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party,” President Barack Obama said at ground zero.

“It didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge; we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act -- that they received justice,” the president said.

Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates led a tribute at the Pentagon Memorial with a wreath laying ceremony. Biden, with Gates and about 100 other guests looking on, placed a large, white floral wreath -- made mostly of white lilies and carnations interspersed with red, white and blue ribbons -- on a metal stand directly in front of a stone on the western wing of the Pentagon, near the site where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the defense department’s headquarters.

The stone is inscribed with the words “September 11, 2001” in honor of the 184 people killed in the Pentagon and on Flight 77.

After Biden placed the wreath, a military bugler played “Taps.” Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, were among the attending dignitaries.

Also, several members of the Arlington County Fire Department who were among the first responders at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, were present.

Neither Biden nor Gates made remarks, but they met with several survivors and relatives of survivors of the Pentagon attack as well as relatives of victims of the 2000 USS Cole attack in Yemen.


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Robert M. Gates
William J. Lynn III
Ray Mabus
Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright

Related Sites:
Transcript: Obama's Remarks at Ground Zero Ceremony May 5, 2011
Special Report: The Demise of Osama bin Laden

Click photo for screen-resolution imageVice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, render honors during the playing of taps at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial, May 5, 2011. Those looking on included a group of first responders from the Arlington County Fire Department and about 100 family members of those who perished in the attack. DOD photo by R.D. Ward  
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