(WASHINGTON) -- At the opening of the 9/11 Museum in New York Thursday, President Obama delivered a touching tribute to the men and women who lost their lives on Sept. 11 nearly 13 years ago.
The victims’ final moments, the president said, were a testament to the “true spirit of 9/11: love, compassion, sacrifice.”
Obama recalled the actions of Welles Crowther, the 24-year-old former volunteer firefighter who worked a finance job in the south tower.
After his heroism, he became known to many as, simply, “the man in the red bandana,” who gave his life so that others might live.
“In those awful moments after the south tower was hit, some of the injured huddled in the wreckage of the 78th floor. The fires were spreading; the air was filled with smoke. It was dark, and they could barely see. It seemed as if there was no way out,” Obama said.
“And then, there came a voice: clear, calm, saying he had found the stairs. A young man, in his 20s, strong, emerged from the smoke and, over his nose and his mouth, he wore a red handkerchief. ...He led those survivors down the stairs to safety and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights,” the president said. “And then he went back.”
Since then, “a generation of service members, our 9/11 generation, have served with honor...[and] our SEALs made sure justice was done,” Obama added, referring to the assault on the Pakistan compound of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
But, the president said, ours is “a nation that stands tall and united and unafraid because no act of terror can match the strength and character of our country. Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us.”
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