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Military leaders, lawmakers reflect upon somber moment: 22nd anniversary of 9/11 attacks on U.S.

At Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin vows to families of the fallen that Department of Defense will never forget.

ARLINGTON, Va. — It's been 22 years since highjacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. 184 souls were brutally taken away: 59 on the plane and 125 people in the building.

On Monday, each name of the fallen was read aloud.

A large U.S.  flag was unfurled over the area where the Boeing 757 slammed into the southwest corner of the building at 9:37 a.m., the exact moment of the attack.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin paid respects, laying a ceremonial wreath. In remarks, he said remembering the attacks each year is difficult, but he assured the families of the victims that the Department of Defense will always remember.

"It's our duty to live up to the goodness that they embodied. And it's our duty to defend the democracy they loved so much."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said the al-Qaida terrorists tried but failed to break the American spirit.

"Those terrorists wanted to destroy our country. But on that day and every day since, the United States has demonstrated that we would never bow to fear and hatred," he said.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said, whenever 9/11 rolls around, "it always seems like yesterday."

Kaine went on to say his heart goes out to the thousands of Americans who died that day and the thousands more who were killed or injured in the years that followed in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia, 2nd District) reflected upon the somber anniversary in her "Weekly De-brief" e-mail to constituents.

Kiggans wrote: 

"Today marks the 22nd anniversary of September 11th... Like many of you, I remember watching in shock as the terror attacks unfolded that Tuesday morning as if they happened yesterday. In a matter of minutes, our entire notion of safety within our own country was destroyed.

"Today, we remember the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans who were killed that day, including the brave first responders who saved countless lives while sacrificing their own. May we continue to pray for the families who live every day with the memories of their lost loved ones. Today, we also honor our brave men and women in uniform who have served to keep us safe in the years since. We owe them a debt that can never truly be repaid.

"As President Bush said that evening as he stood with first responders as they searched for survivors in the rubble: 'Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.'"

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