President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday remembered the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 attacks and issued a warning to anyone who may consider launching a similar attack.
Speaking at a ceremony at Washington's 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Trump named some of the service members, veterans and first responders who aided in the 9/11 rescue, as well as service members who have died fighting terrorists — and he recognized the thousands of service members who are currently deployed.
"American freedom survives only because there are patriots willing to sacrifice everything in its defense," Trump said. "No tribute is sufficient to convey the infinite depth of our nation's gratitude."
As a warning to anyone thinking about attacking America, Trump promised a strong response. "We do not seek conflict. But if anyone dares to strike our land, we will respond with the full measure of American power and the iron will of the American spirit — and that spirit is unbreakable," he said.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said the terrorists stole the lives of those killed in the attacks in New York and Washington and the failed attack that led to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
"Fearful of American values, ideas, and freedoms, our nation's enemies sought to dim the beacon of hope that America has long shone throughout the world," Esper said. But the American people responded with even greater bravery and determination. "Under the very worst of conditions, we saw the very best of America," he said.
Esper said it is important to remember first responders and others who worked to save lives, as well as the service members — some who paid the ultimate sacrifice — who brought justice to those responsible.
"While 9/11 may have transformed our great nation, it also reaffirmed America's commitment to defend our people and our way of life — a commitment that remains unchanged since the founding of our republic 243 years ago," he concluded.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said the terrorist attacks were intended to challenge our way of life and they sought to break the nation's spirit. "But their purpose was never realized. That day made us stronger, more determined and more resolved to protect our nation and that for which it stands," he said.