(CNSNews.com) – Vice President Mike Pence observed the anniversary of Sept. 11th on Tuesday by remembering the thousands who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Virginia as well as the men and women of the armed forces who died “on the field of battle” since 9/11.
“And on this day on 9/11, we also remember the nearly 7,000 Americans who’ve given their lives on the field of battle since September the 11th. We honor them and those who were lost on this day also by supporting the men and women who serve in our armed forces today, and under our administration, I’m proud to say that we’re making the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still,” Pence said.
Last year, President Donald Trump “signed the largest increase in our national defense in a generation, and with that renewed support, we’re giving our men and women in uniform and their commanding officers the resources and rules of engagement they need to fight and win where the perpetrators of this attack found safe haven,” the vice president said.
“It’s also important to recall that the terrorists of 9/11 inspired new enemies to spread violence and their genocidal ideology across the wider world. Today, every American should be proud that thanks to the courage of our armed forces and the leadership of our commander-in-chief, ISIS is on the run. Their caliphate has crumbled, and we will soon drive ISIS from the face of the earth,” he said.
“The evil that descended on America 17 years ago still lingers in our world, so to any who would wish us harm, let them know this: As the American people have shown every day since that bright September morning, President Trump said on these grounds one year ago, in his words, ‘We overcome very challenge. We triumph over every evil, and we remain united as one nation under God,”” Pence said.
The vice president said Trump wanted him to observe 9/11 at the Pentagon ceremony “to pay a debt of honor and remembrance to all who fell here at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001 and to express the gratitude of the American people for all who have labored everyday between then and now to rebuild, to re-strengthen and to protect this nation.”
“The Bible tells us that we’re to mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. Today as a nation, we pause to do just that. The president and the first lady are gathered at this hour by a quiet field in Pennsylvania. In New York City, thousands gathered at Ground Zero to ring the bell and recite the names. And here, on the banks of the Potomac, we meet again in this place where the names of our beloved fallen are recited, where they’re carved into steel and granite benches across these hallowed grounds and will be remembered forever in the hearts of the American people,” he said.
“Seventeen years ago today, America fell under attack. Nineteen radical Islamic terrorists seized control of four commercial airlines to strike the centers of our economy, our military, and our national government. They struck the World Trade Center first. At 8:46 in the morning, the hijackers hit the north tower. Then 17 minutes later as the world watched, the aircraft struck the south tower. At 9:28, a third group of terrorist hijacked Flight 93 in the skies above Pennsylvania and redirected the aircraft toward Washington only to be stopped by the extraordinary heroism of the Americans on that aircraft,” the vice president said.
"And here at the Pentagon at 9:37, terrorists struck this great citadel of American strength. The attacks on September 11th shattered the peace of that quiet September morning and claimed the lives of 2,977 men, women, and children. A hundred and eighty-four of them fell here – 59 aboard Flight 77 and 125 dedicated Americans serving in the hallways of the Pentagon in our Department of Defense,” Pence said.
While many remember the 9/11 attacks “like it was yesterday, a growing number of Americans have no living memory of what happened here,” he said. “Roughly one quarter of our people were born after September 11th, 2001.”
The vice president said “nearly all” survivors of the Pentagon attack who were recovered from the rubble on 9/11 “were rescued within the first 30 minutes after the attack” by those who at first evacuated from the Pentagon. Furthermore, despite the tragedy and loss that day, the Pentagon “maintained continuity of operations” for military operations worldwide.
“In the moments after the attack at this very place, the character, the resilience and the courage of the people here shown forth with stories of heroism. The selfless acts of courage that took place defined the day. There was no time to organize a formal rescue operation, so as the fire spread, countless men and women who had evacuated the Pentagon just moments before plunged back in, risking their lives to save the wounded and help those who were trapped in debris,” he said.
“These heroes saved countless lives. Nearly all the survivors who were recovered from the rubble that day were rescued within the first 30 minutes after the attack, and even in the midst of the attack on this department, the men and women of the Pentagon maintained continuity of operations of America’s armed forces spread across the globe. It was a testament to their courage, their resilience. It was the Pentagon’s finest hour,” Pence said.
During the recovery efforts at the Pentagon, the American flag “was still there,” the vice president said.
“And as they worked, just as it does today, our flag was still there. The stars and stripes were hung spontaneously from this west wall as a sign of America’s strength and our commitment to freedom. We honor the fallen by remembering them, but as Secretary Mattis said, we also honor them by ensuring that we do everything in our power as a nation to prevent the evil of radical Islamic terrorism from ever reaching our shores again.”