By Tom Cohen, CNN
(CNN) - Amid solemn commemorations on Tuesday's 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Barack Obama and other leaders emphasized how America has emerged stronger from the devastation that killed more than 2,900 people and forever changed the nation and the world.
"This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to the dawn," Obama said at the Pentagon, where 184 people died when one of four hijacked planes slammed into the iconic building symbolizing U.S. military might.
"As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are, no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for," Obama said, adding: "When the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world, a stronger nation, and a people more united than ever before."
Earlier, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stood with heads bowed and hands clasped on the White House lawn to observe a moment of silence at the exact time the first hijacked plane hit New York's World Trade Center in 2001.
White House staff stood in quiet observance on the grass behind them as a lone bugler played "Taps."
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Editor's note: We want to hear from you - what woman inspires you, and why? She could be another athlete, or a writer, an activist, or even your mom. Leave your suggestions, stories and memories in the comments section below and we'll feature the best on CNN.com.
By Wynn Westmoreland, for CNN
(CNN) - In the 4×100 sprint relay, it is the handoffs that decide the winner. Speed is important, but without a top-notch changeover, you're out. The maneuver is a perfectly orchestrated move performed in a split second without looking.
It's all about teamwork, something Tianna Madison knows a thing or two about. She was part of the U.S. team that won gold in the relay at the London Olympics, shattering the world record in the process.
Madison is now back in the U.S., using the lessons she learned on the track to help young girls learn their worth and make positive choices for the future.
As a role model, she is not shy to share her experiences - including the downs in her life: "I went from being World Champion long jumper in 2005, to nothing in the last seven years, to now being an Olympian.
"I dealt with a bankruptcy; I had my home foreclosed, and these were things that happened and I was not honest with myself about why I was in that situation," she said.
Crucially for her career, she realized that she couldn't deal with everything on her own. She was lucky enough to get help and support from her husband.
Building on this experience, she started Club 360, to give young women love and support, which they might not find elsewhere.
By Tami Luhby, @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The wealth gap between the richest Americans and the typical family more than doubled over the past 50 years.
In 1962, the top 1% had 125 times the net worth of the median household. That shot up to 288 times by 2010, according to a new report by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.
That trend is happening for two reasons: Not only are the rich getting richer, but the middle class is also getting poorer.
Most Americans below the upper echelon have suffered a decline in wealth in recent decades. The median household saw its net worth drop to $57,000 in 2010, down from $73,000 in 1983. It would have been $119,000 had wealth grown equally across households.
The top 1%, on the other hand, saw their average wealth grow to $16.4 million, up from $9.6 million in 1983. This is due in large part to the growing income inequality divide, as well as the sharp rise in value of stocks over the period.
Net worth counts all assets including real estate holdings, minus debts.
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Editor's Note: Sumbul Ali-Karamali is the author of The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, and Growing up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam. She is on the steering committee of Women in Islamic Spirituality and Equality and is a member of the Muslim Women’s Global Shura Council, both of which aim to promote women’s rights and human rights from an Islamic perspective.
By Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Special to CNN
(CNN) - My father always told me never to talk about religion, politics, or other people’s children. He was part of a generation of American Muslims who wanted to stay quiet and assimilate into American life and not rock the boat. Growing up in Southern California, I tried to follow his advice.
But after 9/11, I found that I, along with other American Muslims, have had little choice but to talk about religion.
Although countless Muslims have condemned the acts of 9/11 in the United States and worldwide, American Muslims became objects of suspicion.
The 9/11 terrorists broke numerous laws of Islam and were denounced as mass murderers by Islamic religious leaders. Even so, Islam is viewed as a religion preaching violence.
In the aftermath, amidst the fear and anger, many American Muslims realized that the reason Americans were so quick to believe the worst about Muslims after the horrific attacks of 9/11 was that Americans knew little about even the most basic tenets of Islam.
And we realized that if we didn’t explain our beliefs and traditions, then other people would write our stories for us.
Despite our efforts, that’s exactly what has happened.
Although 9/11 did compel some Americans to learn more about Islam, it also triggered a wave of anti-Islam feeling that has burgeoned. And though there have been interfaith initiatives, books on Islam, documentaries, education efforts, and shows like "All-American Muslim," polls show that Americans’ negative views of Islam have increased since 9/11, not decreased.
Such trends cannot help but discourage even the most optimistic of American Muslims; many of us are more fearful now than a decade ago, and entire Muslim communities feel besieged.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Alabama officials Monday asked the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate portions of a tough law targeting illegal immigrants after a three-judge panel blocked those provisions.
"We are filing this based on principle," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the move. "As the governor of Alabama, I have a duty to uphold and defend Alabama law. Federal courts should not restrain state governments in a way that is contrary to the U.S. Constitution."
The Obama administration took Alabama to court over the law, arguing that the legislation and a similar act in Georgia law encroached on federal authority.
The judges blocked parts of the Alabama law in August, including language that makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or solicit work; imposed criminal penalties to hide "an alien" or rent property to anyone in the United States illegally; and required state officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools.
The judges let stand one of the most controversial portions of the law, allowing local and state police check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. The ruling followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a similar law in Arizona despite a federal challenge.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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