ARLINGTON, Va. --
President Barack Obama joined friends and family members of those killed on 9/11 during a remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial Sept. 11.
Obama stood in the shadow of the wall struck nine years ago by American Airlines Flight 77, one of four planes hijacked that day.
“You have shed more tears than we will ever know,” Obama said. “Though it must seem some days as though the world has moved on to other things, I say to you today that your loved ones endure in the heart of our nation, now and forever.”
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about the latest addition to the memorial inside the Pentagon -- a quilt that reads “In our hearts we weep for you. In our minds we honor you.”
“(These) words still comfort us,” he said. “We honor them with our lives, with what we have done from that day to this: the sacrifices we have borne, the laughter we have shared, the hope we have dared to let back into our hearts.”
Obama also asked the crowd to remember their loved ones’ full lives.
“They were snatched from us senselessly and much too soon,” he added. “But they lived well, and they live on in you.”
Mullen and Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, were on hand to show support for the service members killed since the 9/11 attacks.
“Our troops and their families have paid a heavy sacrifice over the past nine years,” Gates said.
Though U.S. combat operations in Iraq have ended, the president reiterated his pledge to catch al Qaeda members regardless of their location.
“We define the character of our country,” Obama said. “We will not let the acts of some small band of murderers who slaughter the innocent and cower in caves distort who we are.”