A U.S. flag is unfurled at sunrise on Tuesday at the Pentagon on the 17th anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Photo: AP
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U.S. marks 9/11 with somber tributes; Trump speaks at Pennsylvania site

26 Comments
By Jennifer Pelitz and Karen Matthews

Americans looked back on 9/11 Tuesday with tears and somber tributes as President Donald Trump hailed "the moment when America fought back" on one of the hijacked planes used as weapons in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Victims' relatives said prayers for their country, pleaded for national unity and pressed officials not to use the 2001 terror attacks as a political tool in a polarized nation.

Seventeen years after losing her husband, Margie Miller came from her suburban home to join thousands of relatives, survivors, rescuers and others on a misty morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood.

"To me, he is here. This is my holy place," she said before the hours-long reading of the names of her husband, Joel Miller, and the nearly 3,000 others killed when hijacked jets slammed into the towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

The president and first lady Melania Trump joined an observance at the Sept 11 memorial near Shanksville, where one of the jetliners crashed after 40 passengers and crew members realized what was happening and several passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

Calling it "the moment when America fought back," Trump said the fallen "took control of their destiny and changed the course of history."

They "joined the immortal ranks of American heroes," said Trump.

At the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence recalled the heroism of service members and civilians who repeatedly went back into the Pentagon to rescue survivors.

The terrorists "hoped to break our spirit, and they failed," he said.

At the United Nations, Security Council members stood for a moment of silence, led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims' relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.

For Nicholas Haros Jr, that concern is officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.

"Stop. Stop," implored Haros, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Frances. "Please stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more. Let's not trivialize them."

This year's anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from political campaigns. The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on the anniversary, asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend, but they've been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.

If not political speeches, there were politically tinged appeals from some victims' relatives amid the reading.

"May we support our president to lead our country," said Joanne Barbara, who lost her husband, Fire Department Assistant Chief Gerard Barbara.

Another victim's family sent a different message.

"My hope is that discrimination, hatred and bigotry will cease and that we all will come together and love," said Debra Epps, a sister of victim Christopher Epps. Another sister, Chaundera, had an answer for anyone who wonders why families still come to such ceremonies after 17 years.

"Because soldiers are still dying for our freedom. First responders are still dying and being ill," Chaundera Epps said, adding, "God bless America that's never, ever, stopped being great."

Trump uses "Make America Great Again" as a slogan.

Other relatives laid bare the toll their losses had taken on their families. Thomas Langer said his brother, Timmy, "drank himself to death" after losing his wife, Vanessa, and their unborn child on Sept 11.

"I witnessed my brother endure the pain that no one human being was ever meant to bear," Thomas Langer said.

Sept 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it's less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.

A stark reminder came not long after last year's anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.

In December, a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

The recent attacks scare Ruben Perez, who read names at the trade center Tuesday.

"I get very worried for the state of society. ... It's part of what it means to be human in the 21st century, a fear for public safety," said Perez, 23, who lost his uncle, Calixto Anaya Jr.

Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at Shanksville, where a newly dedicated Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.

It will serve as a way to recognize those who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade Center's twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses among people who spent time in the rubble.

About 38,500 people have applied to a compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.

Meanwhile, a subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site.

Victims' families, too, have evolved and grown.

"Even though I never met you," Isabella Del Corral said of her slain grandfather, Joseph Piskadlo, "I'll never forget you."

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


26 Comments
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May they all rest in peace.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The people on flight 93 did more for America than trump ever will.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

@CrazyJoe - not disagreeing with your point in the slightest but from this article I don't see that Trump said anything wrong here. Maybe just this time give him a break. I can't stand the guy but 9/11 is not a time when I want to hear about him.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'll never forget that night (in Japan; morning in NY, where my son eventually went to college) - my son was a tot and had gone nighty-night with my wife by the time I got home, dinner was laid out on the table, and I settled in with my normal NHK news routine. There was much confusions about the first WTC strike - I assumed it was an errant small plane - when the anchors' background displayed the second plane strike. It was then I put aside my food and called my mother, who said with confidence, "OBL." A colleague of mine was in Boston and had departed on the same BOS-LAX route a half-hour after these fateful flights departed; talk about dodging a bullet (he ended up in Chicago and rented a car for the remainder of his trip).

Let's please not politicize this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What I would like to hear is what you were doing during the attacks and how you remember them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was in bed... My radio alarm clock had just gone off and there was some scattered news... I didn't pay much attention. Then I went to the living room and turned on the TV. I couldn't believe my eyes... what I was watching... I knew the world wasn't going to be the same after that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The people on flight 93 did more for America than trump ever will.

Different time, different era and different situations. The two can't be compared except in the sense is, The people on flight 93 thwarted an attack on US soil on a plane that seemed bound to the WH saving lives potentially and the other a President that has taken the country out of the financial and social abyss that we have fallen into over the last years.

What I would like to hear is what you were doing during the attacks and how you remember them.

I just moved to Fukuoka and started my business, had it a few weeks and was in Tenjin when my sister called me in a panic that the country was under attack, I rushed home, took the train and as I walked into my apartment and rushed to the living room, I saw my roommates glued to the TV set and 5 minutes after that, I saw the second plane hit the South tower, that image and the images of people falling, the towers collapsing and the people showered and covered in a toxic waste will forever be tattooed in my memory.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Laguna, I was living here at the time (near the tail end of my first stay). I'd been out drinking for one of those happy hours that lasts for hours, came home, listened to some music, read and crashed out. Awoke the next morning and turned on FM Cocolo (when I still had and occasionally listened to the radio). They used to run these brief year in review programs, everything that happened in 1987 for instance, so when I heard something about the WTC, I just assumed they were discussing the 1993 bombing. Slowly, given my limited Japanese at the time, I realized this was a live event and I turned on the tv. What was most unsettling and alienating was that no friends or family had called--I'm sure they just assumed I knew what had gone down nearly 12 hours earlier. Worse yet was going to work a few hours later. Absolutely surreal. Naturally people had no idea what to say, but if ever there was a time that you wanted to be around your fellow citizens.

I got married a couple of months later and I'm forever grateful to friends and family who flew over. Not long after, my wife and I moved to the US.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have a female friend that went and took a tour in the towers and took a chilling photo of her inside and in from to the towers on 9/10 amazing photo, but looking at it gives me goosebumps every single time. It has definitely changed me and my outlook towards life immensely.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I came home watching this live on TV. At first, I thought it was an accident, then I saw what I thought was a replay of it. But it was live - and thought, two incidents don't make it an accident. Awful watching everything live. My first thought was for my New York relatives.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A sad day to commemorate.

Those of us who grew up with terrorism on our doorsteps could empathise. But it seems it caught the US by surprise. I guess that's why the outrage was perpetrated.

Never forget the other infamous 9/11 - Chile in 1973. Both these horrors had lasting legacies on the respective countries involved.

RIP to the lost lives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was hard but I forced myself to watch Trump's entire cringeworthy speech this morning. Sec. Mattis's assessment that Trump functions at a 5th or 6th grade level was overly generous.

To my fellow Americans and the surviving families of this terrorist attack, we hold you in most solemn respect on this day.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

bass4funk: "... and the other a President that has taken the country out of the financial and social abyss that we have fallen into over the last years."

And a President that says he helped on that day, but who literally said, "Now I have the tallest tower in that neighbourhood!", BRAGGING about it, who called the day "7/11" at least once, who lied about "thousands of people in New Jersey dancing" as the towers fell (we all know he has a real crowd number fact problem!), and whose first and second tweets on the anniversary were about collusion, and about himself, and the third to praising his personal lawyer -- not the fire fighters and first responders, and no mention of the victims. And YOU defend all of this. You support it.

Unlike Trump's focus on himself, I say RIP to those lost, and once again offer my condolences to those who lost others and/or were otherwise affected by these most horrible attacks. I remember I was sitting in my living room with an ex here in Japan and didn't know what the heck I was watching. When footage of the second plane hitting the second tower aired I couldn't believe what I was watching was real. It was surreal, and horrifying.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Strange perhaps, but I associate the 9/11 attack with the Dunblane school shooting that had occurred five years earlier. In both cases, I heard the news on the car radio while driving in Edinburgh, and wasn't sure I'd heard correctly. I thought I'd heard that the World Trade center towers had collapsed. I got home, switched on the TV, and saw the towers still standing. I thought I must have misheard. Then I realized they were showing a replay of the events. I still sometimes find it difficult to believe it really happened.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

17 years. Google USA support for al quida in Idlib.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

And a President that says he helped on that day, but who literally said, "Now I have the tallest tower in that neighbourhood!", BRAGGING about it, who called the day "7/11" at least once, who lied about "thousands of people in New Jersey dancing" as the towers fell (we all know he has a real crowd number fact problem!), and whose first and second tweets on the anniversary were about collusion, and about himself, and the third to praising his personal lawyer -- not the fire fighters and first responders, and no mention of the victims. And YOU defend all of this. You support it. 

Ok, now that you got that off your shoulder, do you feel better now?

not the fire fighters and first responders, and no mention of the victims.

Actually, he did numerous times, but you left are so fixated with internal animosity and hate, towards this President you guys didn’t even notice.

And YOU defend all of this. You support it. 

Yes, when it’s something he does that is right, when there’s something he does wrong, I call it out.

Unlike Trump's focus on himself,

He hasn’t.

I say RIP to those lost, and once again offer my condolences to those who lost others and/or were otherwise affected by these most horrible attacks.

Well, that’s something we both can agree on.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

 the other a President that has taken the country out of the financial and social abyss that we have fallen into over the last years.

You're confusing Trump with Obama. The post you were replying to mentioned Trump, but you clearly are describing Obama in the quote above. You seem to have forgotten that Obama grew the stock market, economy, and private sector jobs while shrinking the public sector.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

bass4funk:

Ok, now that you got that off your shoulder, do you feel better now?

And that is your response? Not the fact that Trump made a despicable, selfish, unfunny comment? You'd be having a field day if it had been Obama saying that.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

 the other a President that has taken the country out of the financial and social abyss that we have fallen into over the last years.

Literacy is hard for conservatives:

*In fact, the Dow’s rise was even more impressive under Obama if you start measuring at the market’s low point, on March 9, 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession. That day, the Dow closed at 6,547. *Between then and Jan. 5 — a 10-month period — the Dow rose by a stunning 61 percent. That’s more than three times faster than Trump’s rise over the same period in his term.

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/jan/08/how-trump-obama-compare-stock-market/

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Laguna:

I was sleeping, enjoying my last few days before I shipped off to Benning. My cell phone ringing at 0630 PST woke me up. It was my dad and he said, "You might want to turn on the TV. They're parking planes in buildings." I sat glued to the TV for a couple of hours, then went and hung out with a friend who was shipping out with me.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

RIP to all those who died in these horrific attacks.

Crazy: "The people on flight 93 did more for America than trump ever will."

The people on flight 93 were all killed. Some of them might have voted for Trump and some members of their families may support Trump now. They may not appreciate your disparaging the current president of the United States on this solemn occasion.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Was near NY; fortunately not in Manhattan that day

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trump on 9/11: America will never ever submit to tyranny

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq3pmorPZNw

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The people on flight 93 were all killed. Some of them might have voted for Trump and some members of their families may support Trump now. They may not appreciate your disparaging the current president of the United States on this solemn occasion.

If telling the truth is disparaging the president, that's the president's fault.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The people on flight 93 were all killed. Some of them might have voted for Trump and some members of their families may support Trump now. They may not appreciate your disparaging the current president of the United States on this solemn occasion.

Wow, there's a theory. Some people who died 16 years before the current president became president may have voted for them if they had lived, and may have not liked what you were saying.

Pretty ridiculous argument. It could equally be said that they may have all hated Trump, and would have fully supported disparaging Trump.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Trump on 9/11: America will never ever submit to tyranny

So does Trump eat out of Putin's hand.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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