President Obama marked the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks with a video seeking to honor the lives lost in the tragedy and commend its first responders.
“Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost,” the president said in the video released Saturday. “Sons and daughters, husbands and wives, neighbors and colleagues and friends. They were from all walks of life, all races and religions, all colors and creeds, from across America and around the world.”
“We stand with the survivors who still bear the scars of that day,” he continued. “We thank the first responders who risked everything to save others. And we salute a generation of Americans -- our men and women in uniform, diplomats and our intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals -- who serve, and have given their lives, to help keep us safe.”
The president also celebrated the “resilience” of Americans 15 years later, saying that the “core values that define us as Americans” has not changed since the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Terrorists will never be able to defeat the United States,” Mr. Obama said. “Their only hope is to terrorize us into changing who we are or our way of life. That’s why we Americans will never give in to fear. And it’s why this weekend we remember the true spirit of 9/11.”
In the face of new terror threats like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, however, the president urged Americans against reacting “in ways that erode the fabric of our society.”
“We cannot give in to those who would divide us,” he said. “Because it’s our diversity, our welcoming of all talent, our treating of everybody fairly -- no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, or faith -- that’s part of what makes our country great. It’s what makes us resilient. And if we stay true to those values, we’ll uphold the legacy of those we’ve lost and keep our nation strong and free.”
In their own video, Republicans paid their own tribute to Sept. 11 victims.
“We remember the brave and heroic acts of our citizens, our first responders and our medical professionals on that day,” Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said in a video out Saturday. “And we thank the men and women in uniform and in the intelligence community who made us safe and made tremendous sacrifices to keep us safe, and some cases paid the ultimate sacrifice themselves.”
The Georgia Republican asked Americans to “never forget the patriotism that ensued in the days and months following.”
“Let us carry on this patriotism as we work together to solve the current challenges that face the country,” he said.
On the current threat of terror attacks, Isakson criticized Mr. Obama, saying he “continues to cling to a plan that contains rather than defeats ISIL,” an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another name for ISIS.
“It is past time that the United States lead a coalition of our allies to defeat radical Islamic terrorists. Our military is more than capable of ending any notion that ISIL has of establishing a caliphate in the Middle East, but the Obama administration is just not willing to do what it takes,” Isakson said. “The United States must directly and aggressively combat the Islamic State. We must kill them before they kill us.
“Just as we did in the days and months and years that followed 9/11/2001,” he continued, “we must continue to stand united as a nation against terror, rise above the politics and commit to the destruction of our enemies.”