Dozens of Members of Congress joined together on the East Front steps of the Capitol this morning to remember the victims of 9/11, praise the first responders and members of the military working to protect Americans and honor the American spirit.
On a day eerily similar to Sept. 11, 2001, with clear skies and a crisp breeze, Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle stood next to one another, singing the national anthem and "God Bless America," just as they had done 11 years earlier on the same spot.
The ceremony was brief and more subdued than in years past, part of a trend that seems to be bringing a sense of normalcy to the day of the anniversary.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delivered brief remarks, condemning the attacks but praising how far the United States has come in both rebuilding the areas that were attacked and defeating terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.
"Their attack wasn't just on our planes or our buildings. It was an attack against the American spirit," Reid said, while his colleagues stood behind him. "They were determined not only to take lives, but also to break our nation's will. But although the terrible violence of that day turned our nation upside down, it also reminded us of the strength, brought us together as a nation in the fight against terror. In the years since, we've crippled al-Qaida, brought to justice the world's most dangerous terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and our nation has begun to heal."
Boehner, who teared up while delivering his remarks, said America will carry on, but never forget the tragedy of that day.
"Today we listen, and vow to never forget," he said with emotion. "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 complete the unfinished work."
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.