9/11 terror attacks reverberate as US marks 21st anniversary

  • A retired colonel from the U. S. Army Nurse Corps walks beside the reflecting pool at the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York.

    A retired colonel from the U. S. Army Nurse Corps walks beside the reflecting pool at the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York. Associated Press

  • A man prays at the south pool during a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    A man prays at the south pool during a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

  • First responders stand in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    First responders stand in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • A rose at the reflecting pool during the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York.

    A rose at the reflecting pool during the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York. Associated Press

  • A police officer patrols outside of a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    A police officer patrols outside of a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden stands during a moment of silence during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden stands during a moment of silence during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony while visiting the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony while visiting the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • Visitors leave the ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    Visitors leave the ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • A woman wears a pin with a photo of a family member killed in the Sept. 11 attacks at a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    A woman wears a pin with a photo of a family member killed in the Sept. 11 attacks at a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

  • A firefighter salutes outside the FDNY Engine 10, Ladder 10 fire station near the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in New York.

    A firefighter salutes outside the FDNY Engine 10, Ladder 10 fire station near the commemoration ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in New York. Associated Press

  • People gather on Cedar Street by the perimeter of the commemoration ceremony during a moment of silence on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York.

    People gather on Cedar Street by the perimeter of the commemoration ceremony during a moment of silence on the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 in New York. Associated Press

  • First responders salute as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    First responders salute as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • Pennsylvania mounted police officers stand in a field over looking the Wall of Names before a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    Pennsylvania mounted police officers stand in a field over looking the Wall of Names before a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • A visitor looks at the Wall of Names before a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    A visitor looks at the Wall of Names before a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • Flowers and flags on the south pool commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    Flowers and flags on the south pool commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to New York City mayor Eric Adams at the ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to New York City mayor Eric Adams at the ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    First lady Jill Biden speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • Members of the New York City Fire Department read over names engraved in the south pool during a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

    Members of the New York City Fire Department read over names engraved in the south pool during a ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/11/2022 5:50 PM

NEW YORK -- Americans remembered 9/11 on Sunday with tear-choked tributes and pleas to 'never forget," 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

The loss still felt immediate to Bonita Mentis, who wore a necklace with a photo of her slain sister, Shevonne Mentis.

 

"It's been 21 years, but it's not 21 years for us. It seems like just yesterday," she said before reading victims' names at the World Trade Center to a crowd that included Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff.

At the Pentagon, which also was targeted on 9/11, President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would continue working to root out terrorist plots and called on Americans to stand up for 'the very democracy that guarantees the right to freedom that those terrorists on 9/11 sought to bury in the burning fire, smoke and ash.' First lady Jill Biden spoke at the third attack site, a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

On Sept. 11, 2001, conspirators from the al-Qaida Muslim militant group seized control of jets to use them as passenger-filled missiles, hitting the trade center's twin towers and the Pentagon. The fourth plane was headed for Washington but crashed near Shanksville after crew members and passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, reconfigured national security policy and spurred a U.S. 'war on terror' worldwide. Sunday's observances came little more than a month after a U.S. drone strike killed a key al-Qaida figure who helped plot 9/11, Ayman al-Zawahri.

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

'Now that al-Zawahri is gone, at least we're continuing to get that justice,' Roldan said.

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, still awaits a long-postponed military tribunal. An attorney for one of Mohammed's co-defendants this week confirmed ongoing negotiations toward a potential agreement to avoid a trial and impose lesser but still lengthy sentences.

The Sept. 11 attacks stirred - for a time - a sense of national pride and unity for many, while also subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and engendering debate over the balance between safety and civil liberties. In ways both subtle and plain, the aftermath of 9/11 ripples through American politics and public life to this day.

But like some other victims' relatives, Jay Saloman fears that Americans' consciousness of 9/11 is receding.

'It was a terrorist attack against our country that day. And theoretically, everybody should remember it and, you know, take precautions and watch out," said Saloman, who lost his brother, Wayne Saloman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

By tradition, no political figures speak at the ground zero ceremony. The observance centers, instead, on relatives reading aloud the names of the dead.

Like a growing number of readers, Brooke Walsh-DiMarzio wasn't born yet when her relative died. But she took the podium to honor her grandmother, Barbara Walsh.

'I'm here today to represent generation 9/12, those who never experienced 9/11 but still suffer the aftermath of it,' Walsh-DiMarzio said. 'We will never, ever forget.'

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 later moved to Houston but often returns to New York for the anniversary to be "around people who kind of experienced the same type of grief and the same feelings after 9/11,' said Shah.

Readers often add personal remarks that form an alloy of American sentiments about Sept. 11 - grief, anger, toughness, appreciation for first responders and the military, appeals to patriotism, hopes for peace, occasional political barbs, and a poignant accounting of the graduations, weddings, births and daily lives that victims have 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 which came together - to some extent - after the attacks has since splintered apart. 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 equally urgent.

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

Communities around the country marked the day with candlelight vigils, interfaith services and other commemorations, and some Americans joined in volunteer projects. Others observed the anniversary with their own reflections.

More than 70 of Sekou Siby's co-workers perished at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the trade center's north tower. He had the day off because another cook asked him to switch shifts.

'Every 9/11 is a reminder of what I lost that I can never recover," says Siby, now president of ROC United, a restaurant workers' advocacy group. He said ahead of the anniversary that the attacks made him wary of becoming attached to people when 'you have no control over what's going to happen to them next.'

Ginny Barnett volunteered at the Shanksville site after the attacks and struggled for years to come to terms with the tragedy. She gradually found hope by volunteering for the memorial there now.

'I have seen firsthand the evil that man can do, but I have also seen the good that man can do,' Barnett said Sunday. "With God's help, we can focus on and foster good, rather than let hate and anger consume us.'

___

Associated Press journalists Colleen Long in Washington, Ron Todt in Philadelphia and Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed.

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