Families remember 9/11 victims 15 years
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[September 12, 2016]
By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans remembered
the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Sunday at a ceremony
marking 15 years, with the recital of their names, tolling church bells
and a tribute in lights at the site where New York City's massive twin
As classical music drifted across the 9/11 Memorial plaza in lower
Manhattan, family members and first responders slowly read the names and
delivered personal memories of the almost 3,000 victims killed in the
worst attack on U.S. soil since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Relatives in the crowd embraced and some held photos of loved ones and
signs that read: "Never to be forgotten," "We miss you," and "Gone too
Tom Acquarviva's 29-year-old son Paul was one of 658 employees of
financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald who perished after the first
plane struck the north tower just below where they worked on the 101st
to 105th floors.
"Not a day goes by that we don't remember him," Acquarviva told Reuters.
Angela Checo honored her brother, Pedro Francisco, 35, who was a vice
president at investment and wealth manager Fiduciary Trust on the 96th
floor of the south tower.
"He was coming down but forgot someone and went back upstairs to save
them," Checo said. "That's why he never made it down."
The ceremony paused for six moments of silence: four to mark the exact
times four hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon near Washington D.C., and a Pennsylvania field. The last two
record when the North and South towers of the Trade Center crumpled.
It was held by two reflecting pools with waterfalls that now stand in
the towers' former footprints, and watched over by an honor guard of
police and firefighters.
More than 340 firefighters and 60 police were killed on the that sunny
Tuesday morning in 2001. Many of the first responders died while running
up stairs in the hope of reaching victims trapped on the towers' higher
"PIECE OF THEIR HEART"
At the Pentagon, a trumpet played as U.S. President Barack Obama took
part in a wreath-laying ceremony.
"Fifteen years may seem like a long time. But for the families who lost
a piece of their heart that day, I imagine it can seem like just
yesterday," Obama said.
No public officials spoke at the New York ceremony, in keeping with a
tradition that began in 2012. But many dignitaries attended, including
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his Democratic rival
Trump said in a statement that it was a day of sadness and remembrance,
but also of resolve.
"Our solemn duty on behalf of all those who perished ... is to work
together as one nation to keep all of our people safe from an enemy that
seeks nothing less than to destroy our way of life," Trump said.
Clinton said in a statement that the horror of Sept. 11, 2001 would
never be forgotten, and paid tribute to the victims and first
She fell ill after about 90 minutes at the service, becoming
"overheated," aides said, and was taken to her daughter Chelsea's
apartment in Manhattan. She emerged later and told reporters she was
[to top of second column]
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ash Carter (unseen) and
Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Joseph Dunford take part in a ceremony
marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon in
Washington, U.S., September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
TRIBUTE IN LIGHT
Houses of worship throughout the city had tolled their bells at 8:46
a.m. EDT (1246 GMT), the time American Airlines Flight 11 slammed
into the North Tower.
A second pause came at 9:03 a.m. (1303 GMT), when United Airlines
Flight 175 struck the South Tower. American Airlines Flight 77 hit
the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. (1337 GMT), then the South Tower collapsed
at 9:59 a.m. (1359 GMT).
At 10:03 a.m. (1403 GMT) United Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville,
Pennsylvania, and the final moment of silence was observed at 10:28
a.m. (1428 GMT) when the North Tower fell.
As evening falls across New York City on Sunday, scores of
7,000-watt xenon light bulbs will project two giant beams of blue
light into the night sky to represent the fallen twin towers, fading
away at dawn.
The "Tribute in Light" was first set up in 2002, six months after
the attacks, and has become part of the annual memorial service. The
beams reach four miles (6.4 km) into the sky and can be seen as far
as 60 miles (96.6 km) away on a clear night, organizers say.
In the twin towers' place now rises the 104-story 1 World Trade
Center. Also known as the Freedom Tower, it is the tallest
skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, at 1,776 feet (541 meters).
Fifteen years after the attack, the U.S. government marked its
return to the site on Friday, moving its New York City offices
Nineteen hijackers died in the attack, later claimed by Osama bin
Laden and al Qaeda, which led directly to the U.S. war in
Afghanistan and indirectly to the invasion of Iraq.
In Kabul, the top American commander in Afghanistan, General John
Nicholson, paid tribute to members of the NATO-led coalition and
Afghan security forces who had been killed since the Taliban regime
But in an address which touched on his own experience as an officer
in Afghanistan, stretching back a decade, he also underlined how far
from peace the country remains.
"As we know, sadly, the number of terrorist groups has only grown
since 9/11," he said. "Of the 98 groups now designated globally, 20
are in this region, the Afpak region."
(Reporting by Melissa Fares; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati
in Washington and James Mackenzie in Kabul; Writing by Daniel
Wallis; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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