Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Obamas Mark 9/11 Anniversary At Pentagon

Wreath laying, and condolences for family members...
After attending a morning ceremony in New York to begin a day of commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, and then visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, President Obama and First Lady Obama traveled to the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia. They met with family members of those killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the nerve center of the US military. The President placed a wreath of white flowers at the memorial, positioning it on a metal stand above the stone inscription. The President made no formal remarks; there was a moment of silence, and then he and the First Lady moved into the crowd to greet family members of victims.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a larger memorial ceremony at the Pentagon earlier in the day. (Above: Mrs. Obama looks on as the President positions the wreath)

In the afternoon on Sunday, the White House released a special video message from President Obama especially for 9/11 families. The President notes that not all family members could attend today's ceremonies, and he offered words of condolence, strength and thanks.

But there were many family members present at the Pentagon; a crowd of about 200 cheered as the President and Mrs. Obama, joined by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, walked down a cordon flanked by a color guard, and entered the memorial.

Attendees at the ceremony were also "building survivors, and combatant commanders, and Members of Congress," according to a White House official. (Above: The President and Panetta entering the memorial)

President Obama placed the wreath at 3:27 PM as Mrs. Obama stood to the side. After the moment of silence, the First Couple, followed by Panetta and Mullen, crossed the "date line" of the memorial, which reads, "September 11, 2001, 9:37 AM."

A brass quartet played "Amazing Grace" as the foursome then began a slow walk around the "rope" line - the memorial area was actually lined by what looked like ferns, according to pool. (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama with a family group)

All four shook hands, and posed for photos with family members, who clutched photos of their loved ones and personal mementos.

President Obama picked up and held a girl, about three years old, with braids and white beads. An elderly woman stepped over the ferns, and wrapped her arm around Mrs. Obama for a photo.

The motorcade was rolling at 4:01 pm, and arrived at the White House at 4:09 PM. President Obama's final ceremony for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is this evening, when he will make his only formal remarks of the day at "A Concert for Hope" at the Kennedy Center. Update: A post about the event is here.

On Saturday, the President and Mrs. Obama visited Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery, where they walked, holding hands, through the resting place for heroes lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the afternoon, the First Family performed community service at DC Central Kitchen as part of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.

*AP photos

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