President Barack Obama gave a capstone address to a weekend of 9/11 memorial activities at a Sunday night concert designed to help America rekindle its hope after the terrorist attacks a decade ago.

President Barack Obama gave a capstone address to a weekend of 9/11 memorial activities at a Sunday night concert designed to help America rekindle its hope after the terrorist attacks a decade ago.


The Washington National Cathedral’s Concert for Hope, emceed by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, gave equal attention to hope in love, darkness and peace, with musical acts tuned to each phase of America’s post-9/11 grief. Country music superstar Alan Jackson, R&B legend Patti LaBelle and opera star Denyce Graves all performed stirring and soaring songs, accompanied by the Marine Chamber Orchestra and the Washington National Cathedral Choir.


Obama, who received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd of more than 1,000, echoed comments made across the country at this weekend’s commemoration of 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanskville, Pa.


The nation, he said, has endured and will continue to thrive in the face of adversity.


“These past 10 years tell us a story of resilience,” he said. “The Pentagon is repaired and filled with patriots working with a common purpose. Shanksville is the scene of friendships forged between residents of that town and families who lost loved ones. New York remains the most vibrant capital of arts, industry, fashion and commerce. Where the World Trade Center once stood, the sunlight glistens off a new tower reaching toward the sky.


“People still work in skyscrapers, our stadiums are still filled of fans, our parks full of children playing ball. Our airports hum with travel, our buses and subways take millions where they need to go. Families sit down for Sunday dinner, students prepare for school. This land pulses with the optimism of those who set out for distant shores and the courage of those who died for human freedom.”


The resilience was exemplified by the Washington National Cathedral’s service itself. The Concert for Hope was initially scheduled to be at the Cathedral, but damage from an earthquake and Hurricane Irene forced a move to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


But the solemnity remained, with the Kennedy Center’s concert hall turned into a cathedral-like space for the evening. Organ pipes lined the walls, the choir sat in the stage’s rafters and images of the National Cathedral were displayed on large video screens.


“Tonight we will not only honor those who died and who served so heroically, we will turn our thoughts to a world where such terrible events will not occur,” said The Rev. Samuel Lloyd III, dean of the Washington National Cathedral.


Obama, who delivered the evening’s only address, said some feared the shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks would cloud the nation’s hope and optimism forever.


“The Bible tells us weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” he said. “Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. The mighty towers crumbled, black smoke billowed out from the Pentagon and plane wreckage smoldered in a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, they were taken from us with a heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On Sept. 12, we woke up to a world where evil was closer at and uncertainty clouded our future.”


But through wars, recession and political strife, the very fabric of the nation remains strong, perhaps stronger than it was before the deaths of thousands at the hands of al-Qaida.


“Today it is worth remembering what has not changed,” he said. “Our character as a nation has not changed; our faith in God and in each other, that has not changed. Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves and that all people are created equal and deserve the same freedoms and control of their own destiny, that belief…  has only been strengthened.”


Above all, Obama said, it has shown that the country cannot be cowered: “America,” he said, “does not give in to fear.”