The four Americans killed in the US consulate attack in Libya returned home on Friday. Their remains were each carried in a slow procession by six Marines while a military band played the mournful hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.”
The Americans returned home in a ceremony led by President Obama, who recalled their lives in incredibly personal terms, declaring that the United States will never pull back on its principles, nor will we “retreat from the world,” reports The Associated Press.
Obama spoke as the four flag-draped caskets rested near him, saying, “Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. Obama came to the hangar in Andrews Air Force Base to witness the return of the men killed in the assault in Libya on the American diplomatic mission.
Campaign politics were put on the back burner as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s voice broke while talking about the victims killed. Clinton, who spoke before the president, appeared to be fighting tears as she listened to his speech.
When speaking about US ambassador Chris Stevens, Air Force veteran Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, Obama stated:
“They knew the danger, and they accepted it. They didn’t simply embrace the American ideal. They lived it.”
CBS News notes that Clinton’s attendance was a personal mission for the Secretary of State, because she is the one who sent Stevens to Libya, knowing it was a risky assignment. President Obama went on to say of the four men:
“They embodied it: the courage, the hope and yes the idealism, that fundamental belief that we can leave this world a little bit better than before. That’s who they were, and that’s who we are. If we want to truly honor their memory, that’s who we must always be.”
Amid the somber homecoming ceremony, anti-American protests continued to rage across the Middle East and North Africa over what Clinton has called, “an awful Internet video” that mocked the Muslim faith.