WASHINGTON - Amid an atmosphere of unease, President Barack Obama wants Americans to mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by recapturing the sense of common purpose felt on that dreadful day.
"If there is a lesson to be drawn on this anniversary, it is this: We are one nation -- one people -- bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals," the president said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.
"By giving back to our communities, by serving people in need, we reaffirm our ideals -- in defiance of those who would do us grave harm."
Obama himself was marking the day nearly 3,000 people died in terrorist jetliner attacks with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City. The president also planned to attend a memorial service at the Pentagon and participate in a service project in the Washington area.
First lady Michelle Obama was to join former first lady Laura Bush in Shanksville, Pa., where the fourth plane crashed after passengers rushed the cockpit. Vice President Joe Biden is in New York for the service at ground zero.
In the GOP's weekly address, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., echoed Obama's plea for a common purpose. Kyl called for the country to "recapture the unity that allowed us to come together as a nation to confront a determined enemy."
Without mentioning the president by name, Kyl seemed to question the Obama administration's commitment to the fight against terrorism begun by President George W. Bush. Obama recently declared an end to combat missions in Iraq even as he pledged to renew war-fighting efforts in Afghanistan and pursue al-Qaida terrorists.
"The fact that none of the subsequent attempts to attack us have succeeded seems to have removed some of the urgency and commitment so necessary to succeed in war," Kyl said.