(USA TODAY) -- President Obama paid tribute Wednesday to the memory of those who
lost their lives a dozen years ago on 9/11 and praised the survivors who
have carried on in their name.
"Our hearts still ache for the
futures snatched away, the lives that might have been." Obama said
during a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the Pentagon.
also praised military and diplomatic personnel who have made sacrifices
over the past dozen years -- and he singled out the four Americans who
lost their lives a year ago during an attack on a U.S. facility in
Said Obama: "We
pray for all those who have stepped forward in those years of war --
diplomats who serve in dangerous posts, as we saw this day last year in
Benghazi, intelligence professionals, often unseen and unheralded who
protect us in every way; our men and women in uniform who defend this
country that we love."
The Obama administration continues to take criticism from Republicans and others for its handling of the Benghazi attack.
The 9/11 anniversary also came in the midst of a diplomatic crisis over Syria.
Americans who resumed their lives after the horrors of 9/11 --
especially those who lost loved ones -- deserve credit for helping
rebuild the nation, Obama said.
"Let us have the courage
like the survivors and families here today to carry on, no matter how
dark the night or how difficult the day," Obama said.
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The president's remarks at the Pentagon came shortly after he led a moment of silence at the White House.
tolled and a military bugler played taps as the president and first
lady Michelle Obama, joined by members of the White House staff, stood
silent on the South Lawn.
The moment of silence began at 8:46 a.m.
ET, the time at which the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade
Center building in New York City.
Vice President Biden and wife Jill also participated in the memorial ceremony.
The White House flags are at half-staff.
Wednesday afternoon, Obama will participate in a service project, part
of the the National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the 9/11
The president attended 9/11 memorials a day after giving a major speech on Syria.
a White House address, Obama said he will pursue a diplomatic proposal
offered by Russia, but reserved the right to take military action over
chemical weapons in Syria.
During the Pentagon ceremony, Obama said: "Let
us have the strength to face the threats that endure, different though
they may be from 12 years ago, so that as long as there are those who
would strike our citizens, we will stand vigilant and defend our