9/11 Terror Attacks Reverberate as US Celebrates 21st Anniversary

At the Pentagon, which was also targeted by 9/11, President Joe Biden promised that the United States would continue to work to root out terrorist plots and called on Americans to defend “the very democracy that guarantees the right to freedom that those terrorists on 9/11 sought to bury in searing fire, smoke and ash. First Lady Jill Biden spoke at the third attack site, a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

On September 11, 2001, conspirators from the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda took control of jet planes to use as missiles loaded with passengers, hitting the Twin Towers of the Mall and the Pentagon. The fourth plane was heading for Washington but crashed near Shanksville after crew and passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

The attacks have killed nearly 3,000 people, reshaped national security policy and sparked a US “war on terror” around the world. Sunday’s celebrations came just over a month after a US drone strike killed a key al-Qaida figure who helped plan the September 11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Pierre Roldan, who lost his cousin Carlos Lillo, a paramedic, said “we had some form of justice” when a US raid killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

“Now that al-Zawahri is gone, at least we continue to get that justice,” Roldan said.

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is still awaiting a long-adjourned military tribunal. A lawyer for one of Mohammed’s co-defendants this week confirmed ongoing negotiations for a potential deal to avoid a trial and impose lesser but still lengthy sentences.

The September 11 attacks sparked – for a time – a sense of national pride and unity for many, while subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and sparking a debate about the balance between security and civil liberties. In both subtle and simple ways, the aftermath of 9/11 ripples through American politics and public life to this day.

But like other parents of victims, Jay Saloman fears American awareness of 9/11 is slipping.

“It was a terrorist attack on our country that day. And theoretically everyone should remember that and, you know, take precautions and be careful,” said Saloman, who lost his brother, Wayne. Solomon.

By tradition, no political figure speaks during the Ground Zero ceremony. The observance is instead centered on the parents who read aloud the names of the dead.

Like a growing number of readers, firefighter Jimmy Riches’ namesake nephew was unborn when his parent died. But the boy took the podium to honor him.

“You are always in my heart. And I know you are watching over me,” he said.

Nikita Shah wore a T-shirt that bore the de facto epigraph of the annual commemoration – “never forget” – and the name of her father, Jayesh Shah. She was 10 when he was killed.

The family then moved to Houston but often return to New York for the anniversary to be “surrounded by people who kind of went through the same kind of grief and feelings after 9/11,” Shah said.

Readers often add personal remarks that form an alloy of American feelings about 9/11 — grief, anger, toughness, appreciation for first responders and the military, appeals to patriotism, hopes for peace, the occasional political jab, and a poignant narrative. graduation ceremonies. , weddings, births and daily newspapers that the victims missed. A few readers note recent events this year ranging from the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Some relatives also lament that a nation that united – to some extent – after the attacks has since splintered. So much so that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which were reshaped to focus on international terrorism after 9/11, now see the threat of domestic violent extremism as just as urgent.

“It took a tragedy to unite us. It shouldn’t take another tragedy to unite us again,” said Andrew Colabella, whose cousin, John DiGiovanni, died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that presaged 9/11.

Beyond attack sites, communities across the country marked the day with candlelight vigils, interfaith services and other commemorations. Some Americans have joined volunteer projects on a day federally recognized as both Patriots’ Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Others observed the anniversary with their own reflections.

More than 70 of Sekou Siby’s colleagues perished at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the mall’s north tower. He had the day off because another cook asked him to change departments.

The Ivorian immigrant struggled to understand such horror in a country where he had come to seek a better life. And Siby, now chairman of restaurant workers’ advocacy group ROC United, said ahead of the anniversary that the attacks had left him worried about getting attached to people when “you have no control over what what will happen to them next”.

“Every 9/11 is a reminder,” he said, “of what I lost and can never get back.”

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