NEW YORK, N.Y. — President Donald Trump on Monday presided over his first 9/11 ceremony in office, marking the 16th anniversary of the most deadly terror attack to occur on U.S. soil.
With wife Melania by his side, the president observed a solemn moment of silence first at the White House, followed by a second at the Pentagon.
The first moment of silence took place on the White House grounds at 8:45 a.m., marking the moment the first plane, American Flight 11, struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. The second, at the Pentagon, occurred at at 9:03 a.m., marking the moment officials say another plane slammed into Pentagon headquarters 16 years ago.
“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 ones stolen from your life,” Trump said to a crowd of hundreds attending the ceremony. “Today, our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago.”
“On that day not only did the world change, but we all changed,” the president said. “Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we faced, 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.”
“We can never erase your pain, but we can honor their sacrifice by pledging our resolve to do whatever we must to keep our people safe,” the president, himself a native New Yorker, vowed.
Joining Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford a short time later, the president laid a wreath in honor of the victims killed.
Secretary Mattis, who also spoke at the ceremony, said that America will never be intimidated by those who seek to do us harm.
“We never asked for this fight but we are steadfastly committed to seeing it through,” Mattis said at the Pentagon. “We Americans are not made of cotton candy. We’re not seaweed drifting in the current. We are not intimidated by our enemies.”
Mattis added: “Mr. President, your military does not scare.”
“The horror and anguish of that dark day were seared into our national memory forever. Innocent men, women, and children whose lives were taken so needlessly,” Trump said. “Our values will endure, our people will thrive, our nation will prevail, and the memory of our loved ones will never, ever die.”
Last week, the president proclaimed Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day.”
“We rededicate ourselves to the ideals that define our country and unite us as one,” said Trump in a statement, “as we commemorate all the heroes who lost their lives saving others.”