(WASHINGTON) -- With the same sense of unity that pulled Congress together after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, members of Congress from both the House and Senate gathered on steps of the Capitol Monday night to pay tribute to the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attacks.
Congress was not in session Sunday during the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Instead, many members traveled to their home states to participate in local events marking the date, and to New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon to attend ceremonies.
“The 11th of September will always be a day of remembrance,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “It is up to we who live on -- particularly we who serve -- to ‘never forget,’ to never yield, but to hold fast until we have preserved the blessings of freedom for those who come after us. If we are successful, no one will have to tell them what to do. They will know, and they too will ‘never forget.’”
Monday night was reserved for a moment of silence and the singing of “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol -- a sight recreated from the spontaneous rendition of the patriotic tune the night of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Here 10 years ago we reaffirmed in our own way that our commitment was for freedom and democracy -- that’s what makes America the greatest nation in the world,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of that moment. “Little did we know then the effect that [Maryland Senator] Barbara Mikulski suggesting to us, members of Congress here assembled, that we would sing ‘God Bless America.’ We did -- the sweetest song I ever heard.”
Reid said the only reason that Members of Congress could share that experience in 2001 was because of the courage of the heroes on board United Flight 93.
“The plane was headed here,” he said. “We’ve learned since then the ringleader of that evil band had made a decision that it would be the Capitol, not the White House, because it was a much easier target. That night we didn’t know that when we met here, but we know it now.”
“It was clear what needed to be done. No one had to tell them. They saved countless lives. They steadied our country before a watching world,” Boehner said.
Holding small American flags, hundreds of lawmakers sang along Monday evening while the Marine Corps band played “God Bless America,” 10 years after Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol to sing the song a cappella.
Each of Congress’s four top leaders also delivered brief remarks, touching on the themes of unity, patriotism, remembrance and progress that characterized the 10-year anniversary ceremonies last weekend.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio