Hundreds of members of Congress gathered on the West Front Steps of the Capitol Thursday morning for a ceremony marking the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Today we say with one heart, with one vision, we will not forget we will not walk away from the defense of liberty,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner.
Lawmakers from both chambers and both parties lined the steps to mark the occasion. Even Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd--who has been confined to a wheelchair because of recent health problems--attended the ceremony, clutching a tiny American flag and punctuating the various speakers’ remarks with an occasional “amen!” or “yes oh lord!”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer solemnly reminded the crowd that seven years ago today, United Flight 93 was possibly headed towards the U.S. Capitol before brave passengers overtook the hijackers. The plane ultimately crashed outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“We were spared…because seven years ago today, a handful of ordinary Americans found they owned unthinkable heroism,” said Hoyer.
Other congressional leaders offered tributes as well.
“We will always remember too the many brave men and women of our armed forces who have fought to prevent another attack, especially those who did not come home,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“And we remember those who still fight, because this war on terror goes on.
After the speeches, the members sang “God Bless America” before returning to the Capitol.