Tuesday 21 September 2021

US remembers 9/11 attack; tributes pour in for heroes

WASHINGTON, 9 days ago

As the world completed 20 years of the worst attack on United States on September 11, 2001, that killed 2,977 Americans, tributes poured in for the 9/11 ‘heroes’ and victims from several quarters on Saturday, said media reports.
It was two decades to the day after a pair of hijacked airliners destroyed the World Trade Center towers and another plane punched a gaping hole in the Pentagon and a fourth passenger jet crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers sought to regain control from hijackers, Americans nationwide reflected on the events that forever changed their country, reported NPR.
The event not only sparked enormously costly and largely unwinnable wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but also spawned a domestic war on terrorism, rewriting the rules on security and surveillance in the US, the repercussions of which continue to reverberate.
To commemorate the day, hundreds of people on Saturday gathered in Lower Manhattan at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on the spot where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood. 
The 9/11 memorial plaza includes cascading water in the footprints of the twin towers. Mourners placed flowers on the names of the dead inscribed in bronze.
The commemoration began with a tolling bell and a moment of silence. Mike Low, whose daughter was a flight attendant on the airliner that struck the north tower at 8.46am, described an “unbearable sorrow and disbelief” experienced by his family over the past two decades.
As relatives of people who died on 9/11 read out victims' names, many struggled to hold back tears at the ceremony held at Ground Zero, the site of the Twin Towers destroyed in the attacks by Al-Qaeda militants, reported ABC News.
"Twenty years feels like an eternity, but it still feels like yesterday," cried Lisa Reina who lost her husband.
Three presidents - President Biden, former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton - and their wives attended. They wore blue ribbons and held their hands over their hearts as a procession marched a flag through the memorial and stood somberly side by side as the names of the dead were read off by family members and stories and remembrances were shared.
At a ceremony at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, former President George W. Bush remembered the day that "the world was loud with carnage and sirens. And then silent with voices."
"We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come, not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within," Bush said. "There is little cultural overlaps between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home ... they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them."
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump released a video message Saturday morning, largely lambasting Biden's handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. 
Trump, who visited Shanksville on Friday, is also expected to visit ground zero Saturday afternoon before delivering ringside commentary at a boxing match at a casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Also in Shanksville, where a hijacked plane crashed after passengers fought back, Vice President Harris called the site "hallowed ground."
United Flight 93 taught us "about the courage of those on board, who gave everything. About the resolve of the first responders, who risked everything. About the resilience of the American people," she said.
Echoing Bush, Harris said that in the days after the attacks, "we were all reminded that unity is possible in America. We were reminded, too, that unity is imperative in America. It is essential to our shared prosperity, our national security, and to our standing in the world."
The Bidens also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Shanksville and were expected to do the same later at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Families of the victims gathered at the 9/11 memorial plaza in New York on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks that helped shape the 21st century, reported The Guardian.
The sombre ceremony in bright sunshine that was eerily reminiscent of 11 September 2001 was attended by Joe Biden and former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama along with victims’ families and first responders. Many wore face masks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lauding the “heroes” of 9/11 — and of the years since — former US President Barack Obama said: “One thing that became clear on 9/11 –and has been clear ever since — is that America has always been home to heroes who run towards danger in order to do what is right.” 
However, war-weary residents of Kabul expressed anger and feelings of betrayal by the US on Saturday, as the world marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted a US invasion of Afghanistan and the toppling of its Taliban rulers, reported Reuters.
After a two-decade occupation, US forces abruptly pulled out of Afghanistan last month, triggering the collapse of its Western-backed government and the Taliban's dramatic return to power.
"The misfortunes we are currently experiencing are because of America," said Abdul Waris, a Kabul resident, as the white flags of the Taliban emblazoned with lines from the Koran hung from nearby lampposts.
Some of the mostly young men who spoke to Reuters complained that U.S. forces had not tried to help the Afghan people.
"After the September 11 events took place, the Americans were in our country for 20 years for their own benefit," said Jalil Ahmad.
"They took the benefits they had in mind for 20 years while we did not get any benefit from them. They have left the country in a state of confusion."
Bearded Taliban fighters with guns slung over their shoulders were visible around the capital but the mood was quiet and calm following the dramatic changes of recent weeks.
Taking to Twitter, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while the terror threat may not have been eliminated, 9/11 terrorists failed to shake belief in democracy. 
“That we are coming together today - in sorrow but also in faith and resolve - demonstrates the failure of terrorism,” he added. 
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II offered her condolences to the victims, survivors and families affected by the attacks 20 years ago. Among the dead in the 11 September attacks were 67 Britons.
In a message to Joe Biden, she remembered the “terrible attacks” on New York and Washington, D.C.“My thoughts and prayers — and those of my family and the entire nation — remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty,” AP quoted Queen Elizabeth II as saying.


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