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US pauses to mark 11th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

US pauses to mark 11th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

Americans paused Tuesday to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but some said it's time to move forward after a decade of remembrance.
Hundreds gathered at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to read the names of nearly 3,000 victims killed in the worst terror attack in U.S. history.
"Our country is safer, and our people are resilient," President Barack Obama said in a ceremony on the White House's south lawn. He and first lady Michelle Obama laid a white floral wreath at the Pentagon, above a concrete slab that said "Sept. 11, 2001 _ 937 am."
But many felt that last year's 10th anniversary was an emotional turning point for public mourning. For the first time, elected officials weren't speaking at the New York ceremony.
"I feel much more relaxed" this year, said Jane Pollicino, who came Tuesday to remember her husband, who was killed at the trade center. "It's another anniversary that we can commemorate in a calmer way, without that 10-year pressure."
Thousands had attended the ceremony in New York in previous years, including last year's milestone 10th anniversary. Fewer than 500 family members had gathered by Tuesday morning.
As bagpipes played at the year-old Sept. 11 memorial in New York, families bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center's north tower, and again to mark the crashes into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
More than 4 million people have visited the memorial in the past year. On Tuesday, much of downtown Manhattan bustled like a regular weekday, except for clusters of police and emergency vehicles on the borders of the site.
Joe Torres, who put in 16-hour days on the site in the days after the attacks, cleaning up tons of debris, said another year has changed nothing for him.
"The 11th year, for me, it's the same as if it happened yesterday. It could be 50 years from now, and to me, it'll be just as important as year one, or year five or year 10," Torres said.
The terror attacks were followed by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. military death toll years ago surpassed the 9/11 victim count. At least 1,987 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan and 4,475 in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
Allied military forces marked the anniversary at a short ceremony at NATO's headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan with a tribute to more than 3,000 foreign troops killed in the decade-long war.
"Eleven years on from that day, there should be no doubt that our dedication to this commitment, that commitment that was seared into our souls that day so long ago, remains strong and unshaken," said Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and coalition troops.
The Obamas planned later to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Other ceremonies were held across the country, but some cities scaled back.
The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum announced this summer that this year's ceremony would include the words of family members, hoping to remember the dead and honor families "in a way free of politics" in an election year, memorial President Joe Daniels said.
Yasmin Leon, whose sister was killed at the trade center, said there was a sense of closure this year now that the Sept. 11 memorial _ twin reflecting pools surrounded by victims' names _ was open to the public.
"This year, we're just here to reflect," she said.
The Sept. 11 museum was initially to open this year, but is on hold for at least another year after a monthslong dispute over financing between the foundation and the government agency that owns the site. Late Monday, New York Mayor Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement that paves the way for finishing the $700 million-plus project "as soon as practicable."
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Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz, Verena Dobnik and Alex Katz in New York and Amir Shah in Afghanistan contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-24 15:10 GMT+08:00