The ever-increasingly heated presidential campaign took a break Tuesday, with both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney pulling negative advertisements and taking time to reflect on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 American lives.
Obama, joined by first lady Michelle, began the day with a moment of silence on the White House's south lawn, before taking part in an observance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial.
"No matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we gather on this hallowed ground, know this: you will never be alone," Obama said during the Pentagon ceremony, according to a pool report. "Your loved ones will never be forgotten. This day reminds us that even the darkest day gives way to a brighter dawn."
In the afternoon, the president will visit wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to his daily schedule.
Vice President Joe Biden offered solemn remarks in Shanksville, Penn., the crash site of one the hijacked planes. He drew on his own tragic loss of his first wife and young daughter, about 40 years ago, when addressing the crowd.
"Today is just as momentous a day for all of you, just as momentous day in your life, each of your families, as every September 11th has been, regardless of the anniversary," he said. "No matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns, the lingering moment of that phone call, the sense of total disbelief that envelops you. You feel like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest."
Romney is scheduled to address the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nevada Tuesday afternoon. In a statement released to commemorate the anniversary, he said, "America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind."
"Today we again extend our most profound gratitude to our brave troops who have gone into battle, some never to return, so that we may live in peace," he said. "On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world."
GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, will be in his home state Tuesday, according to his campaign schedule. In a statement released to the media, he recounted his own experience on the day of the attacks.
"Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon," he said. "For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders. It is also a day to pay tribute to all those who have worked quietly and tirelessly both on the home front and abroad to prevent a repetition of such terrible events. And it is a day to give honor to those in our military who have sacrificed so much, including their lives, for the same end."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.