America Marks 14th 9/11 Anniversary
Hundreds of victims’ relatives thronged the observances in their early years — gathered for what has become a tradition of tolling bells, moments of silence and the reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strikes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“We come every year. The crowds get smaller, but we want to be here. As long as I’m breathing, I’ll be here,” said Tom Acquaviva, 81, who lost his son, Paul Acquaviva, a systems analyst who died in the trade center’s north tower.
Carrying photos emblazoned with the names of their loved ones, victims’ relatives prayed for peace, praised first responders and the armed forces and, mostly, sent personal messages of enduring loss and remembrance to loved ones some had never even had the chance to know.
“I wish I could meet you,” Valerie Arnold said to the memory of her uncle, firefighter Michael Boyle, who was off-duty but responded to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, before she was born.”
For Nereida Valle, who lost her daughter, Nereida De Jesus, “It’s the same as if it was yesterday. I feel her every day.”
The Associated Press (AP) reported that in Washington, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stepped out of the White House at 8:46 a.m. — when the first plane hit the north tower — to observe a moment of silence. Later yesterday, President Obama was scheduled to observe the anniversary with a visit to Fort Meade, Maryland, in recognition of the military’s work to protect the country.
Elsewhere, Ohio’s statehouse was displaying nearly 3,000 flags — representing the lives lost — in an arrangement designed to represent the sites of the attacks. Sacramento, California, was commemorating 9/11 in conjunction with a parade honoring three Sacramento-area friends who tackled a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train last month.
Some Americans were observing the anniversary in their own ways. “I don’t go to the memorial. I don’t watch it on TV. But I make sure, every year, I observe a moment of silence at 8:46,” electrician Jeff Doran, 41, said yesterday as he stood across the street from the trade center, where the signature, 1,776-foot One World Trade Center tower has opened since last Sept. 11.
After years of private commemorations at Ground Zero, the anniversary now also has become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.
An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the memorial plaza on the evening of Sept. 11 last year, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary. The plaza was to open three hours earlier after the anniversary ceremony.
“When we did open it up, it was just like life coming in,” National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said this week. While the memorial will still be reserved for victims’ relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterward, “the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible.”