ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:
At an Iftar dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan tonight, President Obama honored the Muslim Americans lost on 9/11 and spoke about the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the attacks, saying, “We must be the America that goes forward as one family.”
“This year and every year, we must ask ourselves: How do we honor these patriots — those who died and those who served?” Obama said.
"In this season of remembrance," he added, "the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago: We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for. … An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity. An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity.
“Put simply," he added, "we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger. This is who we are and this is who we must always be.”
The president, who noted that many “proud and patriotic Muslim Americans” were lost in the attacks, told family members of 9/11 victims present at tonight’s dinner that their loved ones “live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget.”
“Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years,” Obama said.
The president highlighted the many Muslim Americans who safeguard communities across the country and work to protect the nation.
“Make no mistake, Muslim Americans help to keep us safe,” he said.
Tonight marked Obama’s third Iftar dinner at the White House, celebrating the break of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
The president joked at the top of his remarks that he would be brief because “this year Ramadan is entirely in August. That means the days are long, the weather is hot and you are hungry.”
Also among the roughly 100 guests in the State Dining Room tonight were 32 ambassadors, two professional football players and the first Muslim elected to serve in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
“Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion,” Obama said. "It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings. So to you and your families, Ramadan Kareem."
- Mary Bruce