Families remembered loved ones 20 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, with grieving loved ones vowing to “never forget” those who lost their lives.
Six moments of silence were observed in New York to mark the times when four commercial planes crashed and the two World Trade Center towers collapsed, killing nearly 3,000 people.
The planes had been hijacked by terrorists on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Two were airlifted into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City just before 9:00 a.m. local time, a third crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., while the fourth flight crashed into the countryside of Shanksville, Pa., at 9:57 a.m. after passengers tried to subdue the hijackers and take control of the plane to prevent further tragedies.
US President Joe Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were among hundreds of people who gathered at the site where the mall’s two towers fell two decades ago.
Each of them wore blue ribbons and held their hand over their heart as a procession paraded a flag through the memorial. Some of those gathered at the memorial carried pictures of loved ones killed in the attacks.
The names of the 2,977 victims were read and Mr Biden, who was a senator at the time of the attacks, wiped a tear from his eye at one point, but he did not speak at the event.
Those who spoke paid heartbreaking tributes to those they lost.
One described “unbearable sorrow and unbelief”, another remembered a “beloved sister …
One man paid homage to his brother “whom we continue to love and miss every day – the world is a lesser place without him”.
Another said: “I couldn’t believe you were gone – I just want to say that I love you and miss you”, while one commenter recalled his father saying: “Daddy, you we miss every day “.
Bruce Springsteen sang his song I’ll See You In My Dreams, accompanied by guitar and harmonica, his words echoing the hopes expressed by still bereaved families.
“I’ll see you in my dreams.
“We will meet, live and love again.
“I’ll see you in my dreams.
“Yeah, up there around the bend in the river.
“Because death is not the end.
“And I’ll see you in my dreams.”
Vice President Kamala Harris and George W Bush – who was president at the time of the attacks – were among those who gathered at the National Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania.
Ms. Harris praised the courage and resilience of Americans who united in the days following the attacks, saying, “In a time of outright terror, we have turned to one another.
“If we do the hard work of working together as Americans, if we stand united in our goals, we’ll be ready for whatever comes next.”
Mr Bush said: “Much of our politics has become a naked appeal of anger, fear and resentment.
“On the day of America’s trial and mourning, I saw millions of people instinctively grab a neighbor’s hand and rally together. This is the America I know.”
Mr Biden also visited Shanksville later on Saturday, before heading to the Pentagon.
He was not expected to speak on any of the sites, but in a video posted Friday night he said: “Children grew up without parents and parents suffered without children.”
But he also said he shared what he called the “central lesson” of the attacks: “It is among our most vulnerable … unity is our greatest strength.”
Earlier, former President Obama reflected on the lessons learned in the “20 years since that horrible morning.”
In a statement, he said: “This list of lessons is long and growing. But one thing that became clear on 9/11 – and has been since – is that America has always been home to running heroes. towards danger to do what is right.
“For Michelle and I, the lasting picture of this day is not just falling towers or smoking wreckage. It’s firefighters walking up the stairs while others descend.
“The passengers deciding to storm a cockpit, knowing that this could be their final act.
“Volunteers showed up at recruiter offices across the country in the days that followed, ready to risk their lives.
“Over the past 20 years, we have seen the same courage and the same selflessness displayed over and over again.”
He said the United States saw the same courage today, with medics and nurses battling the COVID crisis and servicemen risking their lives in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama added, “September 11 has reminded us of how so many Americans are giving of themselves in extraordinary ways – not just in times of great crisis, but every day. Let us never forget that and never take them for granted.
It comes shortly after the end of the war led by the United States in Afghanistan, launched under Mr. Bush a few days after the attacks of September 11 to rid the country of Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the tragedy.
Former President Donald Trump was not at the birthday ceremonies but posted a video in which he spoke of the sadness of 9/11 and attacked Mr. Biden over the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Mr Trump is expected to comment on a boxing match led by former 58-year-old heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield later on Saturday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among world leaders offering support to the United States as people remembered the 9/11 attacks.
He said the terrorists had “failed to separate our nations, or to make us abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear.”
French President Emmanuel Macron added: “We will never forget. We will always fight for freedom”, while South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his “deepest condolences”, calling the losses of September 11th of “deep wound”.