A day of silence and tears
Americans across the nation marked the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with moments of silence, tearful words and tributes to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on that tragic day.
At ground zero in New York, Vice President Kamala Harris joined other dignitaries and relatives of the victims at the ceremony on the National Sept. 11 Memorial plaza. They observed six moments of silence, corresponding to the times when four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, and when the twin towers collapsed.
The names of the dead were read aloud by family members, some of whom also delivered personal messages of remembrance, gratitude and hope. “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,” said Edward Edelman, who honored his brother-in-law, Daniel McGinley.
Some of the speakers also praised the first responders and the military who risked or sacrificed their lives in the aftermath of the attacks. One lauded the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Another appealed for peace and justice in the world. One acknowledged the many lives lost in the post-9/11 “War on Terror.”
A call for unity and democracy
President Joe Biden, who visited all three sites of the attacks earlier in the day, spoke at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam. He urged Americans to rally around protecting democracy and honoring the values that the nation was founded on.
“We know that on this day, every American’s heart was wounded,” Biden said. “Yet every big city, small town, suburb, rural town, tribal community — American hands went up, ready to help where they could.”
Biden also reflected on how the attacks brought Americans together in a spirit of solidarity and compassion. He said that he hoped that such unity would prevail over the divisions and challenges that the country faces today.
“We have to remember not only what we lost, but also what we found — what we found in ourselves,” he said. “We found that we are more alike than we are different. We found that we are stronger together than we are apart.”
A reminder of the impact and legacy of 9/11
The anniversary of 9/11 was also commemorated in various ways around the country, from firehouses to city halls to schools to churches. Some events featured musical performances, flag ceremonies, candlelight vigils or bell tolling. Some focused on honoring the first responders or the military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some also paid tribute to those who have died or suffered from illnesses related to their exposure to toxins at ground zero.
The impact and legacy of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the nation, however remote. In Alaska, for example, a group of firefighters climbed a mountain peak near Anchorage to plant an American flag at its summit. They said they wanted to show their respect and gratitude to those who gave their lives on that day.
“We’re here to remember,” said firefighter Jason Dolph. “We’re here to never forget.”