Paying tributes to Mumbai, U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday said the attackers of 26/11 wanted to demoralise this city and this country, but they failed because the very next day, Mumbaikars came back to work. Hotel staff reported for their shifts. Workers returned to their businesses. And within weeks, this hotel was once again welcoming guests from around the world, he said in his remarks commemorating the November 26, 2008 strike at the Taj Hotel.

The President said, “We'll never forget the awful images of 26/11, including the flames from this hotel that lit up the night sky. We'll never forget how the world, including the American people watched and grieved with all of India.”

He said the resolve and the resilience of the Indian people during those attacks stood in stark contrast to the savagery of the terrorists. “The murderers came to kill innocent civilians that day. But those of you here risked everything to save human lives,” he remarked.

Saluting the bravery of hotel staff and others in facing the attack, he said, “You were strangers who helped strangers; hostages who worked together to break free and escape; hotel staff who stayed behind to escort guests to safety; including the hotel manager, even after he lost his own family; a nanny who braved the bullets to protect a young boy; and Indians in uniform who stopped the carnage and whose colleagues made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The U.S. President also touched on the divisive intent behind the attacks. He said the perpetrators wanted to pit believers of different faiths against one another. But they failed, he pointed out. “Because here in Mumbai, the diversity that is India's strength was on full display: Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews and Muslims protecting each other, saving each other, living the common truth of all the world's great religions, that we are all children of God.”

He said it was “an extraordinary honour” to be here in India and thanked the people of Mumbai for their warm welcome. He said he was looking forward to spending the next three days “in this remarkable country” and to deepening the partnership between India and the U.S..

Taking an inclusive stand, he said, “What we seek to build — to welcome people of different faiths and backgrounds, and to offer our citizens a future of dignity and opportunity. That is the spirit of the gateway behind us, which in its architecture reflects all the beauty and strength of different faiths and traditions, and which has welcomed people to this city for a century.”


A heartfelt gesture to heroesNovember 7, 2010