9/11 Anniversary: America Pays Tribute to 9/11 Victims

Ten years ago today, on September 11 2001, a group of 19 men representing the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda hijacked four jumbo jet planes as they travelled over the United States.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush bow their heads during a moment of silence at the Sept. 11 10th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony at Ground Zero in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. Photo: The White House/Flickr

The men took control of the planes’ controls and flew them into the buildings of some of the United States biggest, most symbolic, institutions. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were both hit by a plane, as was the country’s defence HQ, the Pentagon.

A fourth plane, believed destined for the Capitol Building, came down in a field in Pennsylvania, 20 minutes flying time from Washington DC.

Today, at ceremonies across the world, the lives of the 2,977 innocent people who died on September 11, 2001, were remembered.

The families gathered at ground zero, where 2,749 died, and in Washington and in Pennsylvania to pay tribute to the 224 who died there.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the attacks had turned “a perfect blue-sky morning” into “the blackest of nights.” President Obama read Psalm 46, which talks about God as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

What was then the site of the World Trade Center is surrounded by construction fences, and evidence of what happened is everywhere: There are flags on the new Tower One, the “Freedom Tower.”

The subway station nearby has exit sign that identify it as the “Rector Street 9/11 Memorial,” with the “11” written to look like the twin towers.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York read from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, the famous “four freedoms” speech — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear “anywhere in the world.”

The flag that flew over the World Trade Center on 9/11 is seen during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2011. Photo: The White House/Flickr

On Sunday, President and Mrs. Obama arrived and shook hands with former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, with state and city officials and with relatives of those who died.

Then the President and the former president and their wives walked to the 30-foot waterfalls that are part of the new memorial. In the moments they stood there, the 16 big pumps sent 52,000 gallons of water flowing over the edge.

It was the first time President Obama and former President George W. Bush had stood together at ground zero. Mr. Bush declined Mr. Obama’s invitation to join him at the site last spring, days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

George Bush took to the stage and read a quote from a letter Abe Lincoln wrote to Lydia Bixby, who lost five sons in the US Civil War: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Former president Bill Clinton has released the following statement: “Our nation marks ten years since the terrible events of September 11, 2001 by remembering and honoring the lives of those who were killed and their loved ones, and the courage of those who tried to save them and of those who survived and had to begin again.

A single rose lies at the base of the South Reflecting Pool at the National September 11 Memorial before tenth anniversary ceremonies at the World Trade Center site in New York, September 11, 2011. Photo: The White House/Flickr

Because we live in the most interdependent age in history, it is difficult to be open to the positive forces sweeping the world while closing our borders to the negative ones.

So we also honor the service of those who have worked so hard for the last decade to keep America safe, free, and still open to people of every race, culture, and faith.

Finally, we should offer special thanks to those who lost their loved ones, and responded by helping others in need. In so doing, they are winning the ultimate battle against terrorism—the triumph of love over hate.”

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has also released a statement marking the anniversary: “Ten years ago, we were visited by a human darkness so evil that it plotted and then rejoiced in the murder of innocent lives. We cherish the bright memories of the fallen, and keep our hearts open to the loved ones they left behind.”

“As for those who seek to inflict more harm, understand this: you will never find rest on this earth so long as you threaten our peace and freedom. America will always be strong in defending liberty at home and around the world,” he added. [via The Telegraph and The New York Times]

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