Obama salutes "9/11 generation" of U.S. veterans

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday paid tribute to "9/11 generation" of veterans and service members, thousands of whom have died in the past decade of war following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

"Today we pay humble tribute to the more than 6,200 Americans in uniform who have given their lives in this hard decade of war. We honor them all," Obama said in a speech to the 93rd annual convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Most profoundly, we see the wages of war in those patriots who never came home. They gave their all, their last full measure of devotion, in Kandahar and the Korengal and Helmand, in the battles for Baghdad and Fallujah and Ramadi," he said, referring to the wars the U.S. launched in Iraq and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and intentionally crashed them into the Twin Towers of World Trade Center in New York, and Pentagon in Virginia. One plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to retake the control of the plane.

Obama said that the nation also salutes the 5 million American servicemen and servicewomen for giving what he called "the extraordinary decade of service" in the past 10 years.

He especially praised the tens of thousands of wounded U.S. veterans, who carry the scars of war, both seen and unseen, for making "a scope of sacrifice."

Obama said that the 9/11 veterans, who have fought in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had become a "one America" team that has changed the way that the U.S. fights and wins wars, by serving as diplomats, mayors and development experts.

"Thanks to these Americans, we're moving forward from a position of strength," Obama said.

The U.S. president also mentioned what he called "our greatest victory" in the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign in the past decade -- the successful killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Bin Laden was shot dead early May inside a compound in Pakistan in a surprise attack launched by U.S. Navy special forces,

By making the speech, Obama kicked off the U.S. government's observance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. A series of official memorial services have been planned to honor the 9/11 victims in an attempt to unite the nation at a time when the country is suffering from an economic downturn and a paralyzing political stalemate caused by deep division of two Parties.

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