Monday, the 16th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, was marked solemnly by the Trump administration. The day began with a moment of silence at the White House, followed by the president, first lady, and staff traveling to the Pentagon to speak in front of the building and memorial to the plane that crashed into the building, killing 125 people. Trump was joined onstage by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
The stage was positioned directly in front of the location where the plane was flown into the building, and the Pentagon unfurled an American flag over the crash site for the speeches.
Mattis began his remarks commemorating the nearly 3,000 lives lost that morning around the country. He then critiqued the “temporizing” of the fight against radical Islam, a veiled shot at the previous administration. Mattis, in his trademark fashion, was blunt, saying, “we Americans are not made of cotton candy. We are not seaweed drifting in the current; we are not intimidated by our enemies.”
Mattis then paused, turned away from the podium, and looked directly at Trump and said:
“Mr. President, your military does not scare.”
The grit of the speech marks a stark change in tone from military leaders in the Trump administration. Mattis continued:
“Our nation’s troops today are worthy successors of our Revolutionary army at Valley Forge, worthy successors of our valiant sailors at Midway and our Marines at bloody Iwo Jima … men and women of your armed forces America having signed a blank check to the protection of the American people and to the defense of our constitution, a check payable with their very lives, your military stands ready and confident to defend this country, this experiment in democracy.”
Watch the powerful moment below: