Barack Obama and John McCain put aside politics today to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The two candidates gathered at the site of the attacks to shake hands and lay flowers at the spot where the towers once stood. Earlier in the day, they both released statements about the attacks.
John McCain, in Shanksville, Pa.:
No American living then should ever forget the heroism that occurred in the skies above this field on Sept. 11, 2001. It is believed that the terrorists on United Flight 93 may have intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol. Hundreds if not thousands of people would have been at work in that building when that fateful moment occurred, and been destroyed along with a beautiful symbol of our freedom. They and, very possibly I, owe our lives to the passengers who summoned the courage and love necessary to deny our depraved and hateful enemies their terrible triumph.
I have witnessed great courage and sacrifice for America’s sake, but none greater than the sacrifice of those good people who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.
I spoke at the memorial service for one of them, Mark Bingham. I acknowledged that few of us could say we loved our country as well as he and all the heroes of Sept. 11 had. The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort.
In the Gospel of John it is written, “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Such was their love; a love so sublime that only God’s love surpasses it. I am in awe of it as much as I am in debt to it. May God bless their souls.
Barack Obama, in an emailed statement:
Today, we honor the memory of the lives that were lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and grieve with the families and friends who lost someone they loved in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa. We will never forget those who died. We will always remember the extraordinary efforts of our firefighters, police and emergency responders, and those who sacrificed their own lives on Flight 93 to protect their fellow Americans. And we give thanks for the Americans defending us every day in our communities at home, and in our military abroad.
On 9/11, Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose. Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice. Let us resolve to defeat terrorist networks, defend the American homeland, stand up for the enduring American values that we cherish, and seek a new birth of freedom at home and around the world.