11 September 2023

Bells toll as US marks 22 years since horror of September 11

11 September 2023

Bells have tolled at ground zero and solemn tributes were paid around the US as Americans looked back on the horror and legacy of the September 11 terror attacks.

People gathered at memorials, fire stations, city halls, campuses and elsewhere to observe the 22nd anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on US soil on September 11 2001.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into New York’s World Trade Centre, as well as the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The 9/11 attack reshaped American foreign policy and had a lasting effect on domestic fears.

President Joe Biden is due to join service members and their families at a ceremony on a military base in Anchorage, Alaska.

His visit is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of America, however remote.

US vice president Kamala Harris is joining the ceremony at the trade centre.

Meanwhile, first lady Jill Biden is due to lay a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

Ms Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is expected at a wreath-laying at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

Other communities across the country pay tribute with moments of silence, tolling bells, candlelight vigils and other activities.

In Columbus, Indiana, 911 dispatchers broadcast a remembrance message to police, fire and EMS radios throughout the 50,000-person city, which also holds a public memorial ceremony.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts raise and lower the flag at a commemoration in Fenton, Missouri, where a “Heroes Memorial” includes a piece of World Trade Centre steel and a plaque honouring 9/11 victim Jessica Leigh Sachs. Some of her relatives live in the St Louis suburb of 4,000 residents.

“We’re just a little bitty community,” said mayor Joe Maurath, but “it’s important for us to continue to remember these events. Not just 9/11, but all of the events that make us free.”

New Jersey’s Monmouth County, which was home to some 9/11 victims, made September 11 a holiday this year for county employees so they could attend commemorations.

As another way of marking the anniversary, many Americans carry out volunteer work on what US congress has designated both Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris is due to join the ceremony on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum plaza. The event will not feature remarks from political figures, instead giving the podium to victims’ relatives for an hours-long reading of the names of the dead.

James Giaccone signed up to read again this year in memory of his brother, Joseph Giaccone, 43. The family attends the ceremony every year to hear Joseph’s name.

“If their name is spoken out loud, they don’t disappear,” James Giaccone said in a recent interview.

The commemoration is crucial to him.

“I hope I never see the day when they minimise this,” he said. “It’s a day that changed history.”

In Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked jets crashed after passengers tried to storm the cockpit, a remembrance and wreath-laying is scheduled at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown operated by the National Park Service. Ms Harris’ husband, Mr Emhoff, is expected to attend the ceremony.

The memorial site will offer a new educational video, virtual tour and other materials for teachers to use in classrooms.

Educators with a total of more than 10,000 students have registered for access to the free “National Day of Learning” programms, which will be available through the autumn, organisers said.

“We need to get the word out to the next generation,” said memorial spokesperson Katherine Hostetler, a National Park Service ranger.

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