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A minute of silence, reading the names of the victims and moments of meditation: like every September 11, the United States pays tribute to the victims of the attacks. Weakened by the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Joe Biden will chair these commemorations from the site of “Ground Zero” in Manhattan.

America celebrates on Saturday the twentieth anniversary of September 11 during memorial and solemn ceremonies to pay tribute to some 3,000 dead from Al-Qaeda attacks, in an atmosphere weighed down by the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In two decades, the time of a generation, the deadliest jihadist attacks in history are now anchored in political history and the collective memory of the United States, but the pain of the families of victims and survivors remains extremely lively.

President Joe Biden, weakened by the debacle in Afghanistan, will preside in silence the tribute to the 2,977 dead (including 2,753 in New York) from the impressive Manhattan memorial built at the foot of new skyscrapers, on “Ground Zero “, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) once stood.

Recollection

At 8:46 a.m. (12:46 p.m. GMT) on Saturday, the time when the first plane hacked by five of the 19 jihadists hit the north tower of the WTC, a minute of silence will be observed at the memorial.

Five more minutes of silence and musical tributes will follow one another until 12:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. GMT) to mark the tragedies of that fatal morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001: for the collapse of the New York towers, the attack against the Pentagon near Washington and the crash of one of the planes in Shanksville (Pennsylvania).

>> To see: The orphans of September 11

Like every September 11, for three hours, the names of nearly 3,000 dead will be read at the New York memorial. Huge vertical beams of light are already rising from the two huge black basins that have replaced the base of the towers.

In Times Square, in the heart of Manhattan, the economic heart of the world’s leading power, where America’s victories are traditionally celebrated, a gathering and moments of contemplation are also planned.

Call for unity

Every American, victim or witness of September 11, also prepares to pay homage to a loved one who has disappeared. Frank Siller went further. This brother of a Brooklyn firefighter who died at the WTC has “walked 537 miles (864 km between Washington and New York) from the Pentagon in Shanksville to + Ground Zero +” and is raising funds to support families of victims.

“America has never forgotten Pearl Harbor, it will never forget September 11,” Siller told AFP.

In fact, say researchers, the cataclysm of September 11 turned American society and politics upside down and in a generation became a chapter of history inscribed in the memory of the country. Like Pearl Harbor, the Landing or the Kennedy assassination.

>> To read: Twenty years after 9/11, the wounds of American Arabs

This very special commemoration of September 11, Joe Biden, 78, has undoubtedly prepared many times since his victory in November against Donald Trump, whom he accused of having weakened and fractured America.

In a video message broadcast Friday evening, the Democratic president called for “unity, our greatest strength”.

But after eight months in office, he is widely criticized for the debacle of the end of the military intervention in Afghanistan, Washington having been taken aback by the meteoric advance of the Taliban.

In 20 years, the United States has lost 2,500 troops and spent over $ 2,000 billion in Afghanistan. At the end of August, they abandoned the country to Islamic fundamentalists whom they had driven out of Kabul at the end of 2001, accusing them of harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was finally killed in 2011 in Pakistan.

Generation September 11

And the attack of August 26, claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group, which killed 13 young American soldiers at the airport in Kabul – in the middle of an evacuation operation – has ulcerated part of the public opinion. These young women and men in uniform were mostly children on September 11, 2001.

Their death is a reminder that America is at a caesura: between the memory still alive for tens of millions of American adults and a more partial historical awareness for young people born since the 1990s.

It is “important that they know what happened that day, because there is a whole generation which does not really understand it”, pleads Monica Iken-Murphy, widow of a trader who worked in the south tower of the WTC.

With AFP

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