(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump said he would award a medal to a retired Army colonel he credited with saving about 2,700 people at the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as the president remembered the 18th anniversary of the incident.
Trump said he would soon posthumously award the President’s Citizens Medal to Rick Rescorla, who at the time of the attacks was vice president of security at Morgan Stanley.
“Rick died while leading countless others to safety,” Trump said at a ceremony at the Pentagon on Wednesday. “We will ensure the memory of his deeds will never ever be forgotten; his memory will forever endure.”
Trump took part in a moment of silence at the White House before traveling to the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial. The president congratulated himself for raising U.S. defense spending and warned adversaries not to attack the U.S. again.
“We do not seek conflict but if anyone dares to strike our land, we will respond with the full measure of American power and the iron will of American spirit,” he said.
Trump announced on Saturday that he had planned -- and then canceled -- a secret meeting with leaders of the Taliban to be held Sunday at Camp David to discuss ending the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. launched its war against the militant group, then controlling Afghanistan, after its leaders refused to surrender Osama bin Laden and other leaders of al-Qaeda.
Trump now says peace talks are “dead,” and U.S. troop reduction plans in Afghanistan are unclear. “We’d like to get out, but we’ll get out at the right time,” Trump said on Monday.
Trump ousted National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday, and Afghanistan was one of the key flashpoints between the men. Trump has made clear he wants the U.S. out of Afghanistan -- and even said he could end the war quickly at a cost of millions of lives, which he said he doesn’t want to do. “We’ve been policemen there for a long time, and the government is going to have to take responsibility or do whatever it is they do,” he said Monday.
U.S. lawmakers passed a law in July to provide lifelong medical care to Sept. 11 first responders. At the signing ceremony, Trump highlighted his own view of the attack, saying: “I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, more than 200 New York City firefighters have died, while hundreds more first responders have claimed illness and disability from working on the site of the attacks.
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