House, Senate mark 9/11 with outdoor tribute to the fallen

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"Everyone kept their place," he said. "The professionals who did their duty, who ran in so that others could run out. The patriots who banded together in the sky over Shanksville to save this capitol and these steps. The volunteers who raised their hands and said, 'I'll go,' and they'll fight overseas in perilous conditions.

"To summon such courage in the midst of such loss, to be confronted with such evil and not give a thought to retreat, that is the heart and core of the American people. That is the bond which lies beneath our daily lives," Boehner added.


"Today we listen, and we vow never to forget. To celebrate the greater good that comes from serving one another, and standing shoulder to shoulder. And to carry on, come what may, to meet the unmet challenges and to complete the unfinished work," he said, tearing up as he concluded: "For we are Americans, and this is our place."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that while the attacks were horrific, they pulled Americans together, which showed that the real purpose of the attacks failed.

"Their attack wasn't just on our planes and our buildings, it was an attack against the American spirit, an assault on freedom and democracy," Reid said. "They were determined not only to take lives, but also to break our nation's will.

"We'll never forget the spirit of unity and determination that carried us through the dark days after that cowardly attack and the 11 years that followed," he said. "And we'll never forget the way our nation fought back against the uncertainty and fear to emerge stronger than ever before."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the thoughts of all Americans are on the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day.

"On this anniversary, the thoughts of our nation remain with the innocent Americans we lost, their families and loved ones, with the first-responders who arrived on the scene to rescue others in danger, and stayed at Ground Zero to search for survivors and remains," she said.

"On this day our solemn pledge remains clear: to never forget those who perished on 9/11, to always give voice to those silenced forever, 11 years ago, and to draw inspiration from the families of the victims."

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed that the attacks showed the spirit of America was not broken.

"More than a decade later, most of us still remember 9/11 like it was yesterday," McConnell said. "The initial confusion, the horrifying realization of what was happening, the watching, the waiting, the grief, the anger, the resolve.

"Would it weaken us at home? Would we stand up? Would we shrink? Well, 11 years later we can say with certainty and with pride that 9/11 didn't reveal a weakness of America, it revealed a greatness of America."