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Obama on 9/11: Stay true to who we are as Americans

In his 9/11 address at the Pentagon, President Obama asked Americans to honor the fallen by keeping alive the nation’s shared virtues and values.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, President Barack Obama, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates stand for the national anthem during a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, September 11, 2010.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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In a somber 9/11 ceremony at the Pentagon Saturday morning, President Obama urged Americans to honor the fallen by keeping alive the nation’s shared virtues and values.

“The highest honor we can pay those we lost, indeed our greatest weapon in this ongoing war, is to do what our adversaries fear the most – to stay true to who we are, as Americans; to renew our sense of common purpose; to say that we define the character of our country, and we will not let the acts of some small band of murderers who slaughter the innocent and cower in caves distort who we are,” he said.

Obama sounded a similar theme in his weekly radio/Internet address, in which he noted that September 11 has been designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

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Without mentioning them directly, Obama hinted at current national challenges, including the economy, the proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero in New York, and the recent threats by obscure religious sects to burn copies of Muslim holy book the Quran.

“This is a time of difficulty for our country,” he said. “And it is often in such moments that some try to stoke bitterness – to divide us based on our differences, to blind us to what we have in common. But on this day, we are reminded that at our best, we do not give in to this temptation. We stand with one another. We fight alongside one another. We do not allow ourselves to be defined by fear, but by the hopes we have for our families, for our nation, and for a brighter future.”

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