NEW YORK (AP) The world solemnly marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, mourning the loss of life and destroying American unity in commemorations that unfolded just weeks after the bloody end to the war in Afghanistan that began in response to terrorist attacks.
Relatives of the victims and four U.S. presidents were honored at sites where hijacked planes killed nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil.
Others gathered for observations from Portland, Maine, Guam, or for volunteer projects on what became a day of service in the United States. .
It felt like a nasty ghost had landed in our world, but it was also a time when many people acted above and beyond the ordinary, said Mike Low, whose daughter, Sara Low, was the flight attendant on the first plane that crashed.
As we move these 20 years forward, I find food in an ongoing appreciation for all those who became more than ordinary people, Dad told a zero-sum crowd that included President Joe Biden and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
In a video released Friday night, Biden said September 11 illustrated that unity is our greatest strength.
Unity is the thing that will affect our well-being more than anything else, he added as he visited a volunteer firefighter Saturday after placing a wreath at the site of the Sept. 11 crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He later held a moment of silence in third place, the Pentagon.
The anniversary was marked by the noise of a pandemic and the shadow of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is now ruled by the same Taliban militant group that gave safe haven to the 9/11 conspirators.
Hardly difficult because you hoped it would just be another time and another world. But sometimes history begins to repeat itself and not in the best ways, said Thea Trinidad, who lost her father in the attacks, before reading the names of the victims at the ceremony.
Bruce Springsteen and Broadway actors Kelli OHara and Chris Jackson sang in remembrance, but according to tradition, no politician spoke there.
In Pennsylvania, where passengers and crew struggled to regain control of a plane believed to have been targeted at the U.S. Capitol or the White House, former President George W. Bush said September 11 showed Americans could gather despite their differences.
Many of our policies have become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment, said the incumbent president on 9/11. On the day of America’s judgment and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grabbing their neighbors by the hand and rallying for each other’s cause. This is America I know.
Versions is the truest version of ourselves. What we have been and what we can be again.
Calvin Wilson said a polarized country has lost the message of passenger and flight crew heroism, which included his brother-in-law, LeRoy Homer.
We do not focus on damages. We do not focus on hatred. We do not focus on revenge. We do not focus on revenge, Wilson said before the ceremony. We focus on the good that all our loved ones have done.
Former President Donald Trump visited a New York police station and a fire station, praising the bravery of the reactionaries while criticizing Biden for withdrawing from Afghanistan.
It was a major disability, said Trump, who was scheduled to provide comment on a boxing match in Florida in the evening.
The attacks led to a new era of fear, war, patriotism and, eventually, polarization. They also redefined security, changing airport checkpoints, police practices and government oversight powerswith
A war on terror led to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the longest US war ended last month with a hasty and massive airlift spotted by a suicide bomber which killed 169 Afghans and 13 members of the US service and was attributed to a branch of the Islamic State extremist group. The body of the slain naval general. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was brought to her hometown on Saturday of Lawrence, Massachusetts, where people lined the streets as the flag-wrapped coffin passed nearby.
The US is now concerned that al-Qaeda, the terrorist network behind 9/11, could be regrouped in Afghanistan, where the Taliban flag was flown once again over the presidential palace on Saturday.
Two decades after helping to test and treat wounded colleagues at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, retired Army Colonel Malcolm Bruce Westcott is saddened and frustrated by the continuing threat of terrorism.
I always thought my generation, my military group, would take care of it, we would not pass it on to anyone else, said Westcott, from Greensboro, Georgia. And we passed it.
At ground zero, relatives of many of the victims thanked the troops who fought in Afghanistan, while Melissa Pullis said she was simply happy they were finally home.
We can no longer lose the army. We do not even know why we were fighting, and 20 years went by, said Pullis, who lost her husband, Edward, and whose son Edward Jr. was serving in the USS Ronald Reagan.
Families talked about shortened lives, accomplished achievements and a loss that still feels immediate. Some prayed for a return to solidarity that grew for a while after 9/11 but soon gave waywith
In our grief and strength, we were not divided on the basis of our voting preference, our skin color, or our moral or religious beliefs, said Sally Maler, the victim’s sister-in-law Alfred Russell Maler.
However, in the years that followed, Muslim Americans stayed doubt, OVERSIGHT and hate crimesWith Schism and grief they grew on the balance between tolerance and vigilance, the sense of patriotism, the proper way to honor the dead, and the purpose of a promise to never forget.
Trinidad was 10 years old when she heard her father, Michael, say goodbye to her mother by phone from the burned shopping center. She remembers the pain, but also the company of the days that followed, when all of New York felt like it was a family.
Now, when I feel like the world is so divided, I just wish we could get back to it, said Trinidad, from Orlando, Florida. It seems to me that it would have been a world so different if we had just been able to stay in that feeling.
Associated Press Writers Michael Rubinkam in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island; Jill Colvin in New York; and Alexandra Jaffe in Shanksville and Washington contributed to this report.
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