NEW YORK — For President Barack Obama, the prospect of more U.S. military action in the Middle East hung over his observance Wednesday of the Sept. 11 attacks that occurred a dozen years ago.
While Obama made no direct mention of the crisis in Syria, he vowed to "defend our nation" against the threats that endure, even though they may be different than the ones facing the country during the 2001 attacks.
"Let us have the wisdom to know that while force is sometimes necessary, force alone cannot build the world we seek," Obama said during a ceremony at the Pentagon.
The president spoke the morning after an address to the nation where he defended a possible military strike on Syria in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But he expressed some hope that a diplomatic solution might emerge that would keep the U.S. from having to launch a strike.
Among those gathered at the Pentagon Wednesday where family members of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Many wore red, white, and blue striped ribbons and some cried as the president spoke.
"Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away, the lives that might have been," Obama said.
The morning was sunny as it was a dozen years ago at the time of the attack, but the temperature was hotter and climbing toward a high in the 90s. A few in the crowd were treated for effects of the heat by military medics, and the president wiped his face with a handkerchief as he spoke.
The president also paid tribute to the four Americans killed one year ago in an attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, asking the country to pray for those who "serve in dangerous posts" even after more than a decade of war.