By Peter Schroeder - 09/11/11 03:04 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden, in an emotional speech at the Pentagon, hailed the "9/11 generation" as "among the greatest our nation has ever produced."
Biden, alongside Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, gathered to recognize the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, while praising the efforts of the military, in particular Americans who joined the fight after that day.
"It was born, it was born, it was born, right here on 9/11," he added later, his voice escalating.
The vice president also became fiery when discussing the efforts to fight al Qaeda.
"We will not stop, you will not stop until al Qaeda is not only disrupted, but completely dismantled and ultimately destroyed," he said. "They never imagined the sleeping giant they were about to awaken."
"Any time this nation is attacked, it only emboldens us to stand up and fight back," he added through gritted teeth.
He singled out the efforts of intelligence officials and special operatives that successfully tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in May.
"They were prepared to follow bin Laden to hell's gate if necessary, and they got him," he said. "My God, do we owe those special ops folks and intelligence guys who got him."
Panetta also praised those compelled to serve after the attacks.
"For 10 years, they have carried that burden of protecting America, relentessly pursuing those who would do us harm, who would threaten our homeland," he said.
Both men also recognized the lives lost in those efforts.
"Because of their sacrifices, we are a safer and stronger nation today, and the principal terrorist behind these attacks has been brought to justice," Panetta said. "We will never forget the human costs paid by this generation, the more than 6,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines lost in the line of duty."