With solemn observances, the United States is marking the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ceremonies were held in many places, as well as at the sites in New York, Washington and in the eastern state of Pennsylvania where nearly 3,000 perished in the attacks.  

In New York City, Americans gathered for a solemn ceremony to remember those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks eight years ago.

Under a steady cold rain, family members read the names of victims at the place known as "ground zero," where the two World Trade Center towers once stood.

Holding photos of their loves ones, some cried. Others tossed roses into a pool of water at the site where a permanent memorial will stand. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says, "While there is pain in remembering the loss, there is sweetness in remembering their lives."

Nearly 3,000 people from more than 90 countries were killed after a group of 19 terrorists hijacked the planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon near Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.

At the New York memorial, people remembered lost loved ones.

In Washington, President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama led the nation in a moment of silence at the White House on the minute (8:46 a.m. EDT/1246 GMT) the first jet struck the World Trade Center eight years before.

Later at the Pentagon, Mr. Obama consoled some of the family members of the 184 people killed there.

"Let us renew the true spirit of that day. Not the human capacity for evil but the human capacity for good - not the desire to destroy but the impulse to save and to serve and to build," Mr. Obama said.

People gathered in the countryside near Shanksville, Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed, killing 40 people aboard. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke of the passengers who fought hijackers, forcing the plane down here, possibly sparing the White House or U.S. Capitol.

"They seized the moment and they lost their lives in so doing but not before forcing the monsters to abort their mission," Powell says, "and crash in this field saving so many of their fellow citizens."

Back in New York, roses of remembrance floated, as Americans expressed grief, resolve and determination - on the anniversary the president now hopes to promote volunteerism by declaring this to be a national day of service.