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President Barack Obama has led the nation in marking the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, addressing families of survivors at a private Pentagon ceremony in Washington, D.C. Obama laid a wreath in remembrance of the Americans who lost their lives that day, as thousands of Americans across the nation also gathered at 9/11 memorials to hold moments of silence and pay their respects to those who had passed.

Obama spoke at the Pentagon shortly after a moment of silence was observed at 9:30 a.m. ET, the time 12 years ago when al-Qaeda terrorists flew an American Airlines jet into the Pentagon, killing a total of 184.

“It is an honor to be with you here again to remember the tragedy of 12 Septembers ago to honor the greatness of all who responded, and to stand with those who still grieve, and to provide them some measure of comfort once more,” the president said to the families of the victims killed at the Pentagon.

“We pray for you and the families who have known the awful depths of loss. In the quiet moments we’ve spent together from the stories you’ve shared, I am amazed in the will that you’ve summoned in your lives to lift yourselves up and to carry on, to live and love and laugh again,” Obama added. The Pentagon memorial service was also attended by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

“Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away,” Obama added.

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