Americans remembered 9/11 on Sunday with a tearful tribute, and appealed to “never forget” 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
Bonita Mantis wore a necklace with a picture of her slain sister, Chevon Mantis, a 25-year-old Guyanese immigrant who worked for a financial firm, to read the names of the victims at a Ground Zero ceremony.
“It’s been 21 years, but it’s not 21 years for us. It feels like yesterday,” Mantis said. “The wounds are still fresh.”
“No matter how many years have passed, no one can really understand what happened that day,” he said.
Relatives and dignitaries of the victims also convened at the other two attack sites, the Pentagon and an area in Pennsylvania.
More than two decades later, September 11 remains a point for reflection on the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, reconfigured national security policy and led to a worldwide “war on terror”. inspired. Sunday’s festivities, which follow the anniversary of a horrific milestone last year, come a little more than a month after a US drone strikeAyman al-Zawahiri, who helped plot the 9/11 attacks.
Pierre Roldan, who lost his cousin Carlos Lillo, a paramedic, said “we had some form of justice” when Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid in 2011.
“Now that al-Zawahiri is gone, at least we continue to get that justice,” Roldan said.
The September 11 attacks also – for a time – incited a sense of national pride and unity for many, while subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and sparking debate over the balance between security and civil liberties. Both subtle and obvious, the consequences of 9/11 have spread through American politics and public life to the present day.
But like relatives of some other victims, Jay Salomon fears Americans’ consciousness of 9/11 is declining.
“It was a terrorist attack against our country that day. And theoretically, everyone should remember that and, you know, be careful and be careful,” said Salomon, who lost his brother.
Like a growing number of people reading the name at Ground Zero, firefighter Jimmy Riches’ nephew was not yet born when his relative died. But the boy took the podium to honor him.
After reading the names of the victims, he said, “You are always in my heart. And I know you are watching over me.”
More than 70 of Sekou Siby’s coworkers were killed at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the trade center’s north tower. Sibi had to go to work that morning until another cook asked him to change shifts.
Ivorian immigrants were grappling with how to understand such terror in a country where they would come in search of a better life. And it was difficult for him to make as many friendships as he had in Windows on the World. It was so painful, she learned, connecting with people when “you have no control over what’s going to happen to them next.”
Sibi said in the lead up to the anniversary, “Every 9/11 is a reminder of something I’ve lost that I can never find.” He is now the president and CEO of ROC United, a restaurant activist advocacy group that grew from a post-9/11 relief center.
On Sunday, President Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon and paid tribute to those killed in the attacks, saying the time that has passed is “a lifetime and no time at all.”
He said, “Terror struck us in that glorious blue morning. The smoke filled air and then the sirens and the stories, the stories of the people we lost, the stories of incredible heroism from that fateful day. The American story changed itself that day.” gone,” he said. , “But what we won’t change, what we can’t change, never will, is the character of this country that terrorists thought they could wound.”
The president expressed gratitude to civilians and service members who responded swiftly to the attack on the Pentagon, and to the Americans who joined the armed forces in the wake of September 11, declaring, “We are indebted to you.”
“What has changed over the past 21 years is the American people’s enduring resolve to defend themselves against those who harm us and bring justice to those responsible for attacks against our people,” he said. They said.
Mr. Biden spoke of the importance of American democracy, saying that the American people have an obligation to protect and protect it. the presidentHe refuses to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he believes is an attack on democracy by some within the Republican Party.
“American democracy depends on ‘we the people,’ on the habits of the heart,” he said. “It is not enough for democracy to stand once a year or from time to time. This is something we have to do every single day. So it is not only a day of remembrance, but a day of renewal and renewal for each and every day. It’s a day of resolution. Our devotion to America and to this country, to its principles, to our democracy.”
First Lady Jill Biden was also to speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes went down after passengers and crew members tried to break into the cockpit as the hijackers headed for Washington. Al Qaeda conspirators seized control of the jets for using them as missiles loaded with passengers.
Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug EmhoffAt the September 11 National Memorial in New York, but by tradition, no political figure speaks. Parenting centers to read the names of the dead instead of the relatives of the victims.
Nikita Shah went there in a T-shirt that had the actual inscription of the annual commemoration – “Never Forget” – and the name of her slain father, Jayesh Shah.
The family later moved to Houston, Shah said, but often returns to New York for the anniversary, “around people who experienced the same kind of grief and similar feelings after 9/11.” She was 10 years old when her father was murdered.
Readers often add personal comments that create an amalgam of American sentiments about September 11—sadness, anger, brutality, admiration for first responders and the military, patriotic appeals, hope for peace, occasional political barbs, and A poignant account of graduation, marriage, birth and the daily life that victims have left.
Some relatives also lament that a nation that came together after the attacks – to some extent – has since fallen apart. So much so that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which were reshaped after 9/11 to focus on international terrorism, now see the threat of domestic violent extremism as equally urgent.
“It took one tragedy to unite us. It should not take another tragedy to unite us again,” said Andrew Colabella, whose cousin, John DiGiovanni, was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Which happened before 9/11.
Beyond the sites of the attack, other communities across the country marked the day with candlelight, interfaith services and other commemorations. Some Americans have been involved in volunteer projects on a day that is federally recognized as both Patriot Day and National Service and Remembrance Day.