WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Sunday invoked Scripture and praised the resilience and diversity of Americans while attending a Pentagon ceremony honoring the 3,000 lives lost 15 years ago in the nation's worst terror attack.
Speaking on a warm, sunny morning at the Defense Department's headquarters, Obama said extremist groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida know they can never defeat America so they focus on trying to instill fear.
"As Americans we do not give into fear," he said.
Obama also quoted from the Book of Proverbs: "Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the table of your heart."
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. The American flag is flying at half-staff atop the White House and other federal buildings. Obama has invited governors, interested organizations and individuals to follow suit.
A decade after the attacks, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in a raid in Pakistan that Obama authorized.
On Sunday, in what will be Obama's last 9/11 memorial service as the nation's president, Obama urged Americans not to let its enemies divide them. U.S. diversity — "our patchwork heritage" — is not a weakness, he said.
"It is still and always will be one of our greatest strengths," he said. The nation must "stay true to ourselves, stay true to what's best in us — that we do not let others divide us."
Earlier that morning, Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House at 8:46 a.m. EDT. That's when the first of four hijacked airplanes slammed into the north tower of New York City's World Trade Center.