Twenty years after hijacked airliners smashed into New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington, Americans came together on Saturday (September 11) to honour the nearly 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
At the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, security was tight as families gathered for the anniversary ceremony.
Daniel Lopez said he was finally prepared to read his father’s name at the ceremony. “I ran away from this for 20 years and I’m here to read his name today.”
Ken Diaz, a flight attendant, lost five colleagues and his cousin Angel Pena, who worked for Aon.
“It was his second day on the job. He had never worked in New York City before and he left the girl, 10 years old and eight years old. And he was my age, 46 at the time. And I mean. You can’t ever explain this horrible stuff and you relive it every year.”
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Melissa Tarasiewicz lost her father Allan Tarasiewicz, an FDNY firefighter.
“My mom was a flight attendant at the time, too, so I didn’t know if I lost both my parents,” she said. “They did find my father and two other firefighters with him and a couple of civilians. So it was nice to know that they were doing their job until the end. And that’s all you can ask for is that they did bring him home. I was blessed like that. A lot of families, unfortunately, weren’t.”
Jenny Metzler and her mother Marylou Buss travelled from Lincoln, Nebraska. Buss’ sister Juile Geis, died.
Buss said, “We miss her. We will always miss her. We loved her very much. She loved us. So we’re missing that. You just keep going. We come here to remember her.”
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Bell of Hope honours the 9/11 fallen, 20 years on
The Bell of Hope rang out at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York on Saturday (September 11) morning, to mark the moment at 0846 local times (1246 GMT) when the first of two planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Rev. Phillip Jackson, the priest-in-charge and vicar from nearby Trinity Church Wall Street led the prayer service and remembrance on the 20th anniversary of the attack.
The Bell of Hope has been rung on every anniversary since 2002, when it was presented to New York City by London to honour the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks.
Names of 9/11 victims read out at World Trade Center memorial ceremony
With President Joe Biden on hand, the ceremony at the Sept. 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan began with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EDT (1246 GMT), the exact time the first of two planes flew into the World Trade Center’s twin towers.
Relatives then began to read aloud the names of 2,977 victims to the thousands who had gathered on the cool, clear morning, among them former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, New York’s junior senator at the time of the attacks.
After ground zero, Biden will visit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, where a third airliner crashed; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 was downed after passengers tried to regain control of the hijacked plane.
The remembrances have become an annual tradition but Saturday has special significance, coming 20 years after the morning that many view as a turning point in U.S. history, a day that gave Americans a sense of vulnerability that has deeply influenced the country’s political life since then.
In a painful reminder of those changes, only weeks ago U.S. and allied forces completed a chaotic withdrawal from the war the United States started in Afghanistan in retaliation for the attacks – which became the longest war in U.S. history. And the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has claimed more than 655,000 lives in the United States, continues.
At sunset, 88 powerful lightbulbs will project twin beams four miles (6.4 km) into the sky to mirror the fallen towers. This year, buildings throughout Manhattan, including the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Opera, will join the commemoration by illuminating their facades in blue.
Also marking the anniversary, the New York Mets and New York Yankees baseball teams will play each other on Saturday evening as part of a special Subway Series, their first game on Sept. 11 since the attacks. The players will wear caps bearing logos for the New York City Fire Department and other first responders.