By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2011 – President Barack Obama today called on the American people to come together in the spirit of service and remembrance as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches.
“In just two weeks, we’ll come together as a nation to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks,” the president said in his weekly address.
“We’ll remember the innocent lives we lost. We’ll stand with the families who loved them. We’ll honor the heroic first responders who rushed to the scene and saved so many,” Obama continued. “And we’ll pay tribute to our troops and military families, and all those who have served over the past 10 years, to keep us safe and strong.”
The worst terrorist attack in American history brought out the best in the American people, he said. Americans lined up to give blood, volunteers drove across the country to lend a hand, schoolchildren donated their savings, and communities, faith groups and businesses collected food and clothing.
“We were united, and the outpouring of generosity and compassion reminded us that in times of challenge, we Americans move forward together, as one people,” the president said.
On Sept. 11, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will join the commemorations at ground zero, in Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon.
Even Americans who can’t be in New York, Pennsylvania or Virginia, he said, can be part of the commemoration by participating in the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“In the days and weeks ahead,” Obama said, “folks across the country in all 50 states will come together in their communities and neighborhoods to honor the victims of 9/11 and to reaffirm the strength of our nation with acts of service and charity.”
In Minneapolis, volunteers will help restore a community center, the president said. In Winston-Salem, N.C., they’ll hammer shingles and lay floors to give families a new home. In Tallahassee, Fla., they’ll assemble care packages for U.S. troops overseas and their families at home. In Orange County, Calif., they’ll renovate homes for veterans.
Obama and the first lady also will join a local service project, he said. Those who wish to participate can learn more about local opportunities at the serve.gov website.
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost -- a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11,” the president said.
On this 10th anniversary, he said, the nation faces great challenges.
“We’re emerging from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. We’re taking the fight to al-Qaida, ending the war in Iraq and starting to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. And we’re working to rebuild the foundation of our national strength here at home,” Obama said.
None of the challenges will be easy, he said, and it can’t be the work of government alone.
“As we saw after 9/11,” Obama said, "the strength of America has always been the character and compassion of our people.”
The president called on Americans to mark this solemn anniversary by summoning the same spirit shown 10 years ago on Sept. 11.
“And let’s show that the sense of common purpose that we need in America doesn’t have to be a fleeting moment,” Obama said. “It can be a lasting virtue -- not just on one day, but every day.”