By Jueseppi B.
September 11, 2013
04:00 PM EDT
Today, we honor those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.
At 8:46 AM, the time that the first plane struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center, President Obama was joined by the Vice President, the First Lady, Dr. Biden, and White House staff on the South Lawn to observe a moment of silence.
Observing A Moment of Silence at the White House
Published on Sep 11, 2013
The President, the Vice President, the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden and White House gather on the South Lawn of the White House to observe a moment of silence to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. September 11, 2013.
Later that morning, the President, Defense Secretary Hagel, and other military officials attended the September 11th Observance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington. The President laid a wreath at the Zero Age Line and observed a moment of silence at 9:37 to honor the victims of the attack at the Pentagon.
President Obama then delivered remarks to families of the victims, also honoring the four Americans who lost their lives a year ago today in Benghazi.
They left this Earth. They slipped from our grasp. But it was written, “What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose.” What your families lost in the temporal, in the here and now, is now eternal. The pride that you carry in your hearts, the love that will never die, your loved ones’ everlasting place in America’s heart.
Later this afternoon, President Obama also participated in a service opportunity with Food & Friends, a Washington-area organization that provides freshly-prepared meals to people living with life-challenging illnesses.
September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon
Published on Sep 11, 2013
President Obama speaks at the Pentagon Memorial on September 11th 2013.
To mark the National Day of Service and Remembrance, a day designated by Congress to honor the victims of 9/11, President Obama visited Food & Friends, a charity in Northeast D.C. that provides meals to seriously ill people.
Craig Shniderman, Food & Friends’ executive director since 1995, told DCist the president’s hour-long visit to help pack meals was “remarkable” and a “thrill.”
“It was the wonderful thing for the President of the United States, who is concerned about the world, to demonstrate his personal concern for the neighbors in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas served by Food & Friends,” Shniderman said, adding that the president and volunteers had a great experience. The meals Obama helped pack will be delivered on Friday and Saturday.
Shniderman, who said he believes Obama chose Food & Friends due to their work with Americorps, said he was told by the White House that it was important to the president that “this becomes an opportunity for people to become volunteers and supporters” of the Fort Totten charity.
Food & Friends already has over 14,000 volunteers, Shniderman said, but needs more to help take care of the people with HIV/AIDs, cancer and other serious illnesses they serve.
Interested volunteers can find out more here.
September 11, 2013
12:48 PM EDT
Fixing our immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers and cut the deficit according to an August White House report describing the economic benefits of immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. As the push for immigration reform charges into the fall, a diverse coalition of religious leaders is also calling attention to the moral aspects of this debate. Their efforts remind us that the immigration system is designed to do more than strengthen our economy and national security: it also serves to protect those who aspire to live, work and thrive in this great nation.
Catholics leaders and organizations are among those playing a leading role in making this case.
September 11, 2013
10:50 AM EDT
Michael McFaul is Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation
Despite a packed G-20 schedule filled with meetings on economic issues and the situation in Syria, President Obama also took the time while in St. Petersburg to meet with representatives of Russia’s civil society. He holds such meetings in nearly every country he visits, because, as he told these leaders, he believes that “a country’s strength ultimately comes from its people and that as important as government is — and laws — what makes a country democratic and effective in delivering prosperity and security and hope to people is when they’ve got an active, thriving civil society.” These engagements are an opportunity not only to hear candid views about the country in which these representatives live, but also about the United States.
The meeting in St. Petersburg was no exception. The President, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and I met with a fascinating group of activists that included Boris Pustyntsev, Ivan Pavlov, Yevgeniya Chirikova, Yana Yakoleva, Dmitry Makarov, Igor Kochetkov, Yelena Milashina, Olga Lenkova, and Pavel Chikov. The group represented a broad cross-section of Russian NGOs and activists who work on issues such as human rights, the environment, media freedom, rights of business entrepreneurs, LGBT rights, and fighting corruption, racism, and discrimination.
Our colleagues gave President Obama a strong sense of the challenges facing civil society leaders in Russia today, especially new laws that place restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs and discriminate against the LGBT community. Like others around the world, the President has been following with particular concern the increased climate of intolerance and violence that have accompanied the new law affecting the LGBT community, and he had the chance to hear from two courageous LGBT activists from St. Petersburg who described the challenging environment for their work. Participants urged him to keep human rights, including LGBT rights, on his agenda; to correct mischaracterizations of American policy and laws (especially the false analogy between Russia’s “foreign agent” law and U.S. legislation on lobbying); to empower multilateral organizations to pressure the Russian government to meet its international commitments; and to stand up against discrimination and for freedom of assembly and expression.
The President learned not only about the situation in Russia but also how the Administration’s policies on the environment, whistle-blower protections, and Syria affect the work of civil society activists in Russia. President Obama acknowledged the complexities of balancing national security and individual rights on a variety of issues, but he also expressed faith in the power of American democratic institutions, including a free press, to provide the proper context for resolving specific issues and ultimately to make the American system more democratic. President Obama gave particular attention to the role of civil society in making governments more representative and accountable. He noted his own background as a community organizer, highlighting the significant and important role civil society plays in bettering the lives of ordinary people.
President Obama carefully took notes and responded to all of the questions raised during the meeting. He was clearly energized intellectually and inspired. A meeting planned for forty minutes turned into almost an hour-and-a-half interactive discussion. The President pledged to consider every concrete proposal and later tasked me to follow up on some practical ideas proposed by our roundtable participants.
In the car ride to the Air Force One after the event, the President commented on the articulate, passionate, and practical presentations these leaders had made, and we had a very wide-ranging discussion about civil society in Russia, civil society and human rights around the world, and democracy more generally. After two long days at the G-20, I was struck by how invigorated the President seemed after the discussion.
I thank our Russian participants for such a stimulating session and, like the President, applaud their courageous and important efforts in Russia.
September 11, 2013
10:42 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Commerce blog. You can see the original post here.
As two of the newest members of President Obama’s cabinet, we’ve both spent the past few months lending a fresh set of eyes and ears to the opportunities and challenges facing middle-class workers and American businesses. One concern facing both communities that requires our full attention and our joint efforts is making sure that every American has the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.
This week we visited Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland, where we were joined by U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, to hear from local business, education, labor, and government leaders about the importance of skills training as both a workforce development and an economic development imperative.
In 2011 Anne Arundel Community College received a $19.7 million grant from the Labor Department to lead the National STEM Consortium, which is made up of 10 community colleges in nine states. Together, they’re working with employers, labor unions, and industry groups to develop certificate programs designed to train workers for mid-skill technical careers that have a high volume of openings in a particular region. Over the next decade, more than half of the new jobs created will be middle skills jobs meaning they require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.
Speeches and Remarks/Statements and Releases
September 11, 2013
Michelle Obama joins pro-vets actor Gary Sinise in supporting military families at a new USO center.
Toting a basket of cookies shaped like her new dog Sunny, first lady Michelle Obama today joined activist actor Gary Sinise on a visit to a new USO family center just outside Washington, D.C.
“Guess what I brought you guys — what do you think is in this basket? Cookies!” Mrs. O exclaimed on greeting a clutch of kids, according to the White House transcript. “I want that one!” a child cried as everybody laughed.
“And you know what these cookies are? This is our new puppy. We have a new puppy at the White House, her name is Sunny. And the White House pastry chefs made cookies for all of you guys with Sunny and some other fun stuff in here.”
This is a favorite Obama gift — cookies shaped like doggies. In previous years, it was the family’s first Portuguese waterdog, Bo; now it’s another Portuguese waterdog, Sunny, a female who’s about a year old and looks just like Bo.
Obama has made supporting military families one of her key projects as first lady. Sinise, the CSI: New York star, has, too, ever since he played Lt. Dan in 1994′s Forrest Gump.
Together they paid a visit to the new USO Warrior and Family Center in Fort Belvoir, Va., where they handed out cookies and helped military children make patriotic crafts. The visit was meant to commemorate the Sept. 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
The USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, the largest in USO history, supports wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers, as well as local active-duty troops.
“We just wanted to shine a light on all the great work that the USO is doing for families like these all over the country,” Obama said. “And I’ve got my friend, Gary Sinise, here who has done such terrific work for veterans, troops and military families through his foundation, as well as his Lt. Dan Band.”
Sinise’s band will play a concert at Fort Belvoir later today.
The USO visit followed a more somber scene this morning at 8:46 am., when the first lady joined President Obama, Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, on the White House lawn to observe a moment of silence on the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Perhaps to mark the change in tone for the appearances, Mrs. Obama changed her clothes. In the morning, she wore a purple sheath; by afternoon she had switched to a teal sheath.
Mrs. Obama also was due to meet later today with wounded warriors and their families in Bethesda, Md., at Intrepid Spirit One, the first of nine satellite centers intended to help military members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and related conditions.
Thank you Maria Puente, USA TODAY.
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