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Monday, September 12, 2011

Kennedy Center's 9/11 Concert of Hope

A day honoring victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attack on the U.S. culminated yesterday evening with Kennedy Center Concert of Hope with remarks given by President Obama.

Citing Americans' tenacity and courage, the president even after the 9/11 attack the character of America as a nation has not changed.  Our faith, said President Obama, in God and in each other has not changed.  Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny, that belief, through tests and trials, has only been strengthened."
The president's remarks, lasting well over twenty minutes, included him acknowledging the first responders and firefighters on the scene on that horrific day.

"These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear.  The rescue workers who rushed to the scene, the firefighters who charged up the stairs, the passengers who stormed the cockpit, these patriots defined the very nature of courage.  Over the years we’ve also seen a more quiet form of heroism -- in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up and saves lives every day, the businesses that have been rebuilt from nothing, the burn victim who has bounced back, the families who press on".

The 'hope' concert, hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper, included extraordinary performances by Patti LaBelle who wowed the crowd with a rendition of  her latest musical masterpiece "Two steps away", which she previously performed to the delight of hundreds during the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial celebration.

Alan Jackson performed "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning", backed up by the President's U.S. Marine Corps Band.

Guests of the president included D. Hamilton Peterson, board member and former president of the Families of Flight 93, (His father and step-mother were killed on Flight); Christy Ferer liaison for 9-11 issues currently serving on non for profit boards including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (Ferer is the widow of Neil Levin, director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center); and James J. Laychak current president and chairman of the Pentagon Memorial Fund who spent five years creating and leading the organization that successfully raised the money to design, build, and maintain the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.

President Obama reads from the 9/11 Wall of Names at New York City's September 11 Memorial as First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Bush stand behind him.

Earlier in the day, The President and First Lady traveled to New York City to attend the September 11th 10th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial located in the World Trade Center Site in Lower Manhattan. The President and the First Lady also traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania to help commemorate the 10th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 during the attacks on 9/11.

Vice President Biden remarked at the Pentagon, also a point of attack during the 9/11 tragedy. 

"And so today, above all else, we recall 148 lives cut short on this site 10 years ago this morning", said Biden.  The Vice President, congratulating the families of survivors let them know their presence was commendable.  "But I want you to know something else, your physical presence here today gives hope to thousands of Americans who under different circumstances are trying to come to grips with the losses that you had that they're going through.  Because when they see you here, you let them know that hope can grow from tragedy, and that there can be a second life."

President Obama has designated September 11 as a national day of service. The First Family helped serve meals at DC Central Kitchen.

"With just a small act of service, or a simple act of kindness towards others, you can both honor those we lost and those who serve us still, and help us recapture the spirit of generosity and compassion that followed 9/11", the president said in a video address.

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