WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol on Monday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and raise a chorus of unity as they did in the hours after the terrorist strikes.
Just like 10 years ago, House and Senate members from both parties lined the steps to honor those who had fallen and sing "God Bless America."
This time hundreds of lawmakers, many waving small flags, joined a Marine Corps band in the song. A decade ago it was a smaller group that had been able to make it back to the Capitol, which had been evacuated throughout the day because of fears of further attacks.
In 2001 it was then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who stood side by side to declare that Congress would be back in session the next day.
"We will stand with this president," Hastert said. "And we will stand as Americans together throughout this time."
Ten years later the ceremony was led by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the two minority leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
"Even the fiercest of political adversaries found themselves standing shoulder-to-shoulder singing "God Bless America," McConnell recalled of the 2001 event.
It was "the sweetest song we ever heard," Reid said of their spontaneous rendition of the song.