Somber Ceremonies Mark 12th Anniversary of September 11 Attacks

Americans have gathered to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Solemn ceremonies have taken place near the sites of the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and White House staff observe a moment of silence to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, September 11, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. Photo: Official White House

It’s a day the American nation will never forget.

On a hot and hazy Wednesday morning, hundreds of people from across the country gathered at the National September 11 Memorial plaza in Manhattan to commemorate the thousands of lives lost on 9/11.

Bagpipes and a youth choir opened the solemn proceedings, held around two memorial pools in the footprints of the twin towers on the 16-acre site of the former World Trade Center complex.

The ceremony begins at 8:39 a.m.in 9/11 Memorial plaza, under the shadow of One World Trade Center, which earlier this year became New York City’s tallest building.

The names of the 2,983 victims lost in 2001 and the bombing of the site in 1993 were being read, and six pauses were to mark when the planes hit the towers, when they fell and when the Pentagon and Flight 93 were attacked.

“You were more than just my daddy.  You were by best friend and I love you more than anything.  You will be in my heart always,” the daughter of a 9/11 victim said after reading the name of her father.

“To my nephew Michael Joseph Mullin, we miss you and think of you every single day,” said one of the 250 people chosen to read names, many of them family members of the victims.

“You’re gone but not forgotten,” another woman said of her lost cousin.

In keeping with a tradition begun last year, no public officials spoke at the New York ceremony, although former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, his successor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and other city and state leaders were in attendance, says Reuters.

In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and about 200 other staff members observed a moment of silence under an American flag flown at half-staff on the South Lawn of the White House. The president also attended an observance at the Pentagon.

“In the quiet moments we have spent together, and from the stories that you have shared, I am amazed at the will that you have summoned in your lives to lift yourselves up and to carry on and to live and love and laugh again,” the president said.

“Even more than memorials of stone and water, your lives are the greatest tribute to those that we lost, for their legacy shines on in you.”

A separate memorial service was held outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, honouring the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. They struggled with the hijackers of the plane, preventing it from hitting its intended target, believed to be the White House or the US Capitol building.

All 33 passengers and seven crew members on the flight were killed after the plane crashed into a field about 75 miles (120km) south-east of Pittsburgh.

Nineteen hijackers were killed in the suicide attacks, for which Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda claimed credit, leading to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and indirectly to the invasion of Iraq.

Builders are meanwhile putting the finishing touches to the new World Trade Center tower and a museum dedicated to the attacks.

One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, its spire reaching to 1,776ft (541m), a symbolic number alluding to the year of the US Declaration of Independence, says BBC News.

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