9/11 ANNIVERSARY

A nation's grief: US marks two decades since carnage of 9/11

A person places flowers and a US flag on a name inscribed on the September 11 Memorial in New York City, Saturday, September 11, 2021.
A person places flowers and a US flag on a name inscribed on the September 11 Memorial in New York City, Saturday, September 11, 2021. © Mike Segar/Pool Photo via AP

US President Joe Biden commemorated 20 years since the 9/11 attacks shattered American lives, by visiting each of the sites where passenger jets were crashed by jihadist hijackers.

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Ceremonies and memorials were held nationwide Saturday to pay homage to the victims and first responders, with Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attending services in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A minute’s silence was held in New York City at 8:46am and 9:03am to mark the moments the planes plunged into the World Trade Centre’s north and south towers, and again to mark the times of their collapse.

Silences were also observed for the moments when a third jet struck the Pentagon in Virginia, at 9:37am, and when a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03am.

Biden earlier released a video message called for unity in the face of ongoing grief still being felt by the attacks 20 years later.

Tears in NYC

In New York City, the names of victims were read aloud, with singer Bruce Springsteen performing the song “I’ll See You in my Dreams” during a memorial ceremony at Ground Zero. 

Thousands of people, including hundreds of firefighters, gathered in Manhattan to mark the sombre occasion. Also there were former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

More than 440 first responders were killed in the attacks in what remains the largest loss of emergency crews in the country’s history.

“One thing that became clear on 9/11 – and has been clear ever since – is that America has always been home to heroes who run towards danger in order to do what is right,” Obama said in a statement Saturday.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attends the National 9/11 Memorial marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, in New York.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attends the National 9/11 Memorial marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, in New York. AFP - JIM WATSON

Pennsylvania bells 

Meanwhile Vice President Kamala Harris and former president George W Bush attended an emotional memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 went down.

Both were speakers at the event, in the Stonycreek Township, which was closed to the public but open to the families of the victims and other invited guests.

The ceremony culminated with the ringing of the Bells of Remembrance for each passenger and crew member who perished while fighting to wrest back control of the plane from hijackers.

Pentagon ceremonies

A sunrise memorial took place the Pentagon, in Virginia, with the unfurling of a giant American flag on the west side of the building that was hit.

An observance ceremony also took place, with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

Those will be followed later in the day by a private wreath-laying ceremony to be attended by both Biden and Harris, along with their spouses. 

For the first time, the 9/11 anniversary will take place without the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, where the attacks were planned.

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