Americans have marked the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people. Ceremonies were held in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, locations where the flights of hijacked jetliners came to tragic ends.
Americans gathered to remember the horror and loss of life on September 11 with music, prayers, testimonials and moments of silence.
At a newly constructed memorial in New York where the World Trade Center once stood, the names of all who perished were read by surviving family members.
Many paid tribute to the person they lost. “And my nephew, Danny Correa-Gutierrez. Danny, we want you to know you will always be our baby boy. You will be in our hearts forever, and we love you," said one woman.
"And my father, Sebastian Gorki, who I never met because I was in my mom’s belly [on 9-11]. I love you, Father. I love you for loving the idea of having me. You gave me the gift of life, and I wish you could be here to enjoy it with me," said a boy.
President Barack Obama visited all three sites where lives were lost on September 11, reading Psalm 46 from the Bible at his appearance in New York. “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered His voice. The earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge," he said.
Former President George W. Bush also was present, and read from a letter penned by then-President Abraham Lincoln to a woman who lost all of her sons in the U.S. Civil War.
Many attendees openly wept. At a ceremony outside the Pentagon, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, acknowledged the pain that lingers 10 years after the attacks. “No music can assuage, no tongue can express, no prayer alone may dampen the yearning that must fire yet inside you. Lives ended in this place. Dreams were shattered," he said.
Mullen added that terrorists could bring down walls, but not America, that they could kill citizens, but not Americans’ citizenship. He noted that the September 11 attacks did not go unanswered. “America’s military ventured forth as the long arm and clenched fist of an angry nation at war. And we have remained at war ever since, visiting upon our enemies the vengeance they were due," he said.
U.S. officials had warned of possible terrorist threats coinciding with the anniversary, but they provided no additional information as the ceremonies went forward.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 provoked a national outpouring of shock, sorrow and anger. But they also evoked fierce patriotism, a sense of national unity and common purpose. If America’s unity has been tested in years since, the anniversary ceremonies seemed to recapture it, in the remembrance of those who died 10 years ago.
9-11 Memorial Scenes from New York City