Obama marks Sept. 11 anniversary at White House

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President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden join members of the White House staff during a moment of silence to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The site was pristine, the weather basically the same as on that fateful day in 2001. But it was the searing memory of death and destruction that brought President Barack Obama to the White House grounds for a moment of silence and reflection, a dozen years after terrorists emblazoned this date indelibly in people's minds, hearts and calendars as "9/11."

Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden and members of the White House staff, walked out to the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m., EDT. That was the moment on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower in New York.

Obama and others assembled on the lawn and bowed their heads to observe a moment of silence, and then listened as a bugler played Taps.

The president will attend a Sept. 11 ceremony at the Pentagon later Wednesday morning. He also plans to mark the anniversary by participating in a volunteer project.

In a commemorative event at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder called on an audience of several hundred employees to remember "the nearly 3,000 innocent people whose lives were lost" and to pay tribute to the 72 law enforcement officers who were killed trying to save others.