In what has become an annual ritual, relatives began slowly
reciting the nearly 3,000 names of the victims at a ceremony in
lower Manhattan, from Gordon Aamoth Jr. to Igor Zukelman.
Readers would occasionally pause as a silver bell was rung to mark
the exact times when each of the four planes hijacked by al Qaeda
militants crashed at the three sites and when each of the World
Trade Center's twin towers collapsed. With each bell, a moment of
silence was observed.
Obama spoke at the Pentagon during a private ceremony for relatives
of the 184 people killed in the attack on the U.S. Department of
Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, several miles from the
He laid a wreath of white lilies and chrysanthemums, and kept his
hand on his heart as "Taps" played.
"Thirteen years after small, hateful minds conspired to break us,
America stands tall and America stands proud," Obama said.
In New York, the voice of Tom Monahan, a 54-year-old man with
salt-and-pepper hair and broad shoulders, cracked when he talked
about the brother and cousin he lost in the attack.
"Everything is fine until you get here," he said before waving his
hands as if to signal he could not talk anymore. He emerged from the
security checkpoints an hour later and showed a reporter a message
he had sent on his cell phone to his sister. "9-12 couldn't come
soon enough," it said.
Beyond the checkpoints, an invitation-only crowd stood beneath an
overcast sky in the memorial plaza at the heart of the new World
Trade Center, which is nearing completion in lower Manhattan. Some
of those in attendance were dressed in military uniform, others wore
T-shirts and sneakers.
Many people held up posters with smiling photographs of their dead
relatives. Red roses and American flags poked up from the bronze
plates bearing victims' names that ring the two waterfalls that now
trace the footprints of the fallen towers.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
and two former mayors, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, were
among the mourners.
The high fences blocking off public access to most of the World
Trade Center site finally came down in May.
[to top of second column]
While lower Manhattan may look different this year, the threat to
the United States represented by the Sept. 11 attacks remains.
Washington and its allies see Islamic State, a group that began as
an offshoot of al Qaeda, as an increasing danger.
Obama said he had ordered an aerial bombing campaign targeting the
group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and released
videos of beheadings of two American journalists.
"It definitely drives home the fact that there are certain things
that haven't changed since September 11th," Brendan Chellis, who was
working on the 30th floor of one of the twin towers at the time of
the attack, said outside the New York ceremony.
The only ceremony open to the general public was at the Flight 93
National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the
four hijacked airliners crashed after a struggle between passengers
and the hijackers.
George Meyers, a 43-year-old paralegal, was living in Shanksville 13
"I felt the ground shake the day it happened," he said during a
visit to the memorial, set amid bucolic rolling fields. "It's hard
to come outside and see grieving families but it's nice to see them
smile at the memorial that's been built."
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Roberta Rampton
in Washington and Elizabeth Daley in Shanksville, Penn.; Writing by
Jonathan Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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