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12 September 2023

US marks 22 years since 9/11 with tributes and tears, from ground zero to Alaska

12 September 2023

From Ground Zero to small towns, Americans looked back Monday on 9/11 with silence, tearful words and appeals to teach younger generations about the terror attacks that struck the nation exactly 22 years before.

“For those of us who lost people on that day, that day is still happening. Everybody else moves on and you find a way to go forward, but that day is always happening for you,” Edward Edelman said as he arrived at New York’s World Trade Centre to remember his brother-in-law, Daniel McGinley.

President Joe Biden, speaking at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, urged Americans to rally around protecting democracy.

His visit, en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the nation, however remote.

“We know that on this day, every American’s heart was wounded,” Mr Biden said. “Yet every big city, small town, suburb, rural town, tribal community, American hands went up, ready to help where they could.”

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into the trade centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, in an attack that reshaped American foreign policy and domestic fears.

At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris joined other dignitaries at the ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial plaza.

Instead of speeches from political figures, victims read the names of the dead and delivered brief personal messages.

Some included patriotic declarations about American values and thanked emergency workers and the military.

One praised Navy Seals who killed al-Qaida leader and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

Another appealed for peace and justice. One acknowledged the many lives lost in the post-9/11 “war on terror”. Many shared personal reflections on missing loved ones.

“Though we never met, I am honoured to carry your name and legacy with me,” said Manuel Joao DaMota Jr, who was born after his father and namesake died.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, became the first president to commemorate September 11 in the western US.

He and his predecessors have gone to one or another of the attack sites in most years, though Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama each marked the anniversary on the White House lawn at times.

First lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon, where a giant American flag hung over the side of the building, bells tolled, and musicians played taps at 9.37am, the precise moment American Airlines Flight 77 hit the military headquarters.

“As the years go by, it may feel that the world is moving on, or even forgetting what happened here on September 11, 2001,” said defence secretary Lloyd Austin, who deployed to Iraq in the war that followed the attack.

“But please know this, the men and women of the department of defence will always remember.”

Ms Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, laid a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked jets crashed after passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

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