Obama on 9/11 : 'They Sought to Break Our Spirit ... America Proved Them Wrong'

Thirteen years later, "America stands tall," the president says.

ByABC News
September 11, 2014, 11:00 AM

— -- Marking the 13th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, President Obama this morning paid tribute to the lives lost and the power of the American spirit.

“Thirteen years after small and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud,” the president told survivors and victims’ families at a ceremony at the Pentagon. "And guided by the values that sustain us, we will only grow stronger."

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America endures, the president said, because of the “tenacity of our survivors,” the “dedication of those who keep us safe,” and “the perennial optimism that defines us as a people.

“We carry on because as Americans we do not give in to fear. Ever,” he said.

The morning after Obama outline his strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, references to that looming terror threat were notably absent from his remarks.

Instead, the president focused on the future and the enduring strength of the nation.

“Generations from now, Americans will still fill our parks, our stadiums, our cities,” he said. "Generations from now, Americans will still build towers that reach toward the heavens, still serve in embassies that stand for freedom around the world, still wear the uniform and give meaning to those words written two centuries ago -- land of the free, home of the brave. Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America."

Thirteen years ago, Obama was a little-known state senator driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago when he heard news of the attacks over the radio, not knowing how the tragedy would come to shape his future presidency.

“They sought to do more than bring down buildings or murder our people,” he said today. "They sought to break our spirit and to prove to the world that their power to destroy was greater than our power to persevere and to build. But you and America proved them wrong. America endures in the strength of your families who, through your anguish, kept living."