President Barack Obama gave a speech in which he read Psalm 46 at the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial on Sunday, which marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
"God is our refuge and strength," said President Obama, quoting Psalm 46 from the Bible, following an observed moment of silence that marked the first hijacked jet crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ten years ago.
“…God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved,” continued Obama as he stood before the white oak trees of the new 9/11 Memorial.
Obama’s scripture choice has garnered both praise and criticism.
Principal Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest released a statement that the President chose the passage because he deemed it most fitting.
"The President chose a scripture which he believed was most appropriate -- he believed it was particularly appropriate to use -- to read scripture this morning. And he chose a passage that talks of persevering through very difficult challenges and emerging from those challenges stronger," Earnest said.
Despite the decision by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to not include religious leaders as part of the 9/11 ceremony, religious references still made its way into the ceremony in the addresses by other government leaders such as former President George W. Bush and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Bush read the “Bixby letter” of condolence that President Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1864 to a mother who lost five sons in the Civil War:
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Giuliani, like Obama, read from the Bible, quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1-9, which reads:
“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal…”