U.S. President Barack Obama has marked the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States by reaffirming his determination to defeat terrorism. The president laid a wreath in memory of those who died on that day's attack on the Pentagon.
President Obama stood in a heavy rain at the Pentagon Memorial, and called on Americans to remain united in fighting terrorism.
"Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still," the president said. "In defense of our nation, we will never waver. In pursuit of al-Qaida and its extremist allies, we will never falter."
Near the spot where, eight years earlier, a hijacked jetliner slammed into the huge office building, killing 184 people, Mr. Obama pledged to do everything possible to keep America safe. And he said recalling the nation's unity of purpose after the 9/11 attacks is the strongest rebuke against the terrorists who conducted them.
"On a day when others sought to sap our confidence, let us renew our common purpose," President Obama said. "Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans."
The president addressed about 500 people, including survivors of the Pentagon attack and families of the victims. He said that despite the brutality of the attacks, Americans should recall the beauty of the victims' lives.
"They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives," the president said. "Gone in a terrible instant, they now dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Mr. Obama also paid tribute to the public safety workers who responded to the Pentagon attack, as well as the military personnel who have fought to protect the nation since 9/11.
The president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with the victims' family members.
The first of four moments of silence was held at 8:46 a.m., the time the first jet hit the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center eight years earlier. At that time, the president and first lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence outside the White House as a bugler played taps. About 150 White House staff members stood in silence around them.
In New York, families carrying photos of lost loved ones gathered where the World Trade Center had once stood, and huddled in the rain as church bells rang in remembrance. Vice President Joe Biden laid flowers in a reflecting pool at the site. The names of the victims were being read throughout the day.
Most of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9-11 attacks were in or near the towers.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give the main speech at the ceremonies near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a fourth hijacked plane crashed. The names of the 40 passengers and crew of that flight were to be read. It is widely believed that passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 foiled a hijackers' plot to ram the plane into a major landmark in Washington.