NEW YORK – The world marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, remembering the dead, calling for heroes and just weeks after the bloody end of the Afghanistan War launched in response to terrorist attacks. After that the review was done.
Relatives of the victims and four US presidents paid tribute at sites where hijacked planes killed nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil.
Others gathered in Portland, Maine, Guam, or for volunteer projects in what has become a service day in the US, with foreign leaders sympathizing with an attack in the US but claiming victims from more than 90 countries.
“It felt like an evil ghost had descended upon our world, but it was also a time when many people acted above and beyond the normal,” said Mike Low, whose daughter, Sarah Low, had previously boarded a flight. There was an attendant who had an accident.
“As we move through these 20 years, I find sustenance in my relentless admiration for all those who exceeded ordinary people,” the father told a Ground Zero crowd that included President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama. And Bill Clinton was involved. .
The anniversary unfolded under a pandemic and in the shadow of a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, now ruled by the same Taliban terrorist group that provided safe haven to the conspirators of 9/11.
“It’s hard because you expected it to be a different time and a different world. But sometimes history starts to repeat itself, not in the best of ways,” said Thea Trinidad, who lost her father in the attacks. Diya, said before reading out the names of the victims at the ceremony.
Bruce Springsteen and Broadway actors Kelly O’Hara and Chris Jackson sang at the commemoration, but according to tradition, no politician spoke there. In a video released Friday night, Biden addressed the continuing pain of the loss, but also outlined what he called the “central lesson” of September 11: “That our weakest…unity is our greatest strength.”
Biden was also paying respects at two other sites where 9/11 conspirators crashed jets: the Pentagon and an area near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
At a Pennsylvania site – where passengers and crew struggled to regain control of a plane targeting the US Capitol or the White House – former President George W. Bush said on September 11 that Americans can come together despite their differences.
“A lot of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and outrage,” said the president who was in office on 9/11. “On the day of America’s trials and tribulations, I watched millions instinctively hold their neighbor’s hand and rally for one another. He knows America.”
“It’s the truest version of ourselves. It’s who we were and what we can be again.”
Calvin Wilson said a polarized country “remembered the message” of heroism from the flight’s passengers and crew, including his brother-in-law Leroy Homer.
“We do not focus on the loss. We don’t care about hate. We don’t focus on vengeance. We don’t focus on revenge,” Wilson said before the ceremony. “We focus on the good that all our loved ones have done.”
Former President Donald Trump visited a New York police station and a firehouse, praising the bravery of respondents while criticizing Biden over his withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“It was gross incompetence,” said Trump, who commented on a boxing match in Florida that evening.
The attacks ushered in a new era of fear, war, patriotism and ultimately polarisation. He redefined security, changed airport checkpoints, changed police practices and the surveillance powers of the government.
A “war on terror” invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, where the longest US war ended in a hurry last month, with a suicide bombing leading to a massive airlift that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members and one of its members. Branch was held responsible. Islamic State extremist group. The US is now concerned that the terrorist network behind 9/11, al-Qaeda, may regroup in Afghanistan, where the Taliban flag was once again hoisted over the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday.
Two decades after helping triage and treating allies wounded at the Pentagon on September 11, retired Army Colonel Malcolm Bruce Westcott is saddened and dismayed by the continuing threat of terrorism.
“I always felt that my generation, my military, would take care of it – we wouldn’t pass it on to anyone else,” said Westcott of Greensboro, Georgia. “And we passed it.”
At Ground Zero, relatives of many of the victims thanked the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, while Melissa Police said she was “just glad all the soldiers are out of Afghanistan.”
“We cannot lose any more troops. We don’t even know why we’re fighting, and 20 years went down the drain,” said police, who lost her husband Edward, and whose son Edward Jr. is serving on the USS Ronald Reagan.
At this point, many of the relatives reciting the names of the victims are too young to know their lost kin. But families speak of life cuts, milestones missed and a loss that still feels immediate. Many also called for a return to solidarity, which briefly peaked after September 11, but soon gave way.
Muslim Americans endured suspicion, surveillance, and hate crimes. The balance and resentment struck a balance between the realm of tolerance and vigilance, the meaning of patriotism, the proper way to honor the dead, and the promise to “never forget”.
Trinidad was 10 when she heard her father Michael say goodbye to her mother on the phone from a burning business center. She remembers that pain, but also the company of the days after that, when everyone in New York “felt like it was family.”
“Now, when I think the world is so divided, I just wish we could go back to that,” said Trinidad of Orlando, Florida. “I think it would be a different world if we hung on to that sentiment.”
Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island; and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.