One day before the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, President Barack Obama is paying tribute to those who were lost that day, those who tried to save their lives, and members of the military. Meanwhile, New York’s former mayor says America is safer today than on 9-11, but not safe enough.
President Obama and his wife Michelle visited Arlington National Cemetery Saturday, paying their respects to U.S. military personnel who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They comforted others who were visiting the grave sites.
The September 11th Memorial glows in the New York City night, September 10th, 2011. VOA - C. Presutti
In his weekly Internet address, Mr. Obama said Americans will protect their country, in the name of those who acted heroically at New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field. “Ten years ago, ordinary Americans showed us the true meaning of courage when they rushed up those stairwells, into those flames, into that cockpit. In the decade since, a new generation has stepped forward to serve and keep us safe. In their memory, in their name, we will never waver," he said.
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The president also said the United States is stronger than it was ten years ago, and that al-Qaida, which conducted the attacks, is on the path to defeat. “They wanted to terrorize us, but as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Yes, we face a determined foe, and make no mistake, they will keep trying to hit us again. But as we are showing again this weekend, we remain vigilant," he said.
The president was referring to what authorities say is a credible but unconfirmed terrorist threat planned to coincide with Sunday’s anniversary.
Security has been increased in Washington and New York. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is urging Americans to be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated Friday that al-Qaida is behind the threat.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. is taking the fight to al-Qaida, having killed its leader, Osama bin Laden, in May. He also said his administration is working to improve security at ports, airports and borders, and is forging new partnerships with other countries to meet global security challenges.
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In the Republican Party’s weekly address, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said America is safer today than on 9-11, but not as safe as it should be.
Giuliani received widespread praise for his leadership in New York in the days after the attacks.
He briefly ran for president in 2008, and is said to be considering running again in 2012.
Giuliani said Saturday the Obama administration’s deadlines for ending U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are keeping the armed forces from meeting their objective. “American security requires a long-term military presence in the part of the world where people and organizations are plotting to kill us. The timetable should not be based on a politically expedient calendar, but on when we have eliminated the threat of domestic attacks being generated in that particular part of the world," he said.
Giuliani agreed with the president, however, that the 9-11 attacks failed in their goal to destroy America’s spirit. “The country was not broken, but rather, it was more united in the days after September 11 than at any time in my lifetime. We displayed heroic spirit in many ways, but perhaps the most heroic was the unity of spirit that we shared as Americans. The American people demonstrated one of the most basic values that we share-our love of freedom and the value we place on individual human life," he said.
President and Mrs. Obama will attend a full day of anniversary observances on Sunday.
They will begin the day at a commemoration in New York, where they will be joined by former President George W. Bush and other dignitaries.
Next, they will visit the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to lay a wreath at a memorial for those who died on Flight 93. Passengers on that plane are believed to have foiled a plot to crash it into a landmark in Washington.
The first couple will return to Washington to take part in a wreath-laying at the Pentagon. Their day will conclude with the president speaking at a memorial concert at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.