9/11 attacks still reverberate as US celebrates 21st anniversary

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans remembered 9/11 on Sunday with muffled tributes and pleas to “never forget,” 21 years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

Nikita Shah walked to the ground ceremony in a T-shirt that bore the annual commemoration’s de facto epigraph – “never forget” – and the name of her slain father, Jayesh Shah. The family later moved to Houston, but often returned to New York for the anniversary of the attack that killed him and nearly 3,000 others.

“For us, it was being around people who went through the same kind of grief and the same feelings after 9/11,” said Shah, who was 10 when his father was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. .

Relatives of the victims and dignitaries also gathered at the other two attack sites, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Other communities across the country mark the day with candlelight vigils, interfaith services and other commemorations. Some Americans join volunteer projects on a day recognized by the federal government as both Patriots’ Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

More than two decades later, 9/11 remains a point of reflection on the attack that reconfigured national security policy and spurred a US “war on terror” around the world. The Sunday celebrations, which follow a milestone anniversary last yearjust over a month after a US drone strike killed a key al-Qaida figure who helped plan the September 11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri.

It also sparked – for a time – a sense of national pride and unity for many, while subject Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and generate debate on the balance between security and civil liberties. In both subtle and obvious ways, the consequences of 9/11 ripple through American politics and public life nowadays.

And the attacks cast a shadow over the personal lives of thousands of people who survived, responded to or lost loved ones, friends and colleagues.

The namesake nephew of firefighter Jimmy Riches was not yet born when his uncle died, but the boy took to the podium to pay his respects.

“You are always in my heart. And I know you are watching over me,” he said after reading some of the victims’ names.

More than 70 of Sekou Siby’s colleagues perished at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the mall’s north tower. Siby had to work that morning until another cook asked her to change shifts.

Siby never resumed working at a restaurant again; it would have brought back too many memories. The Ivorian immigrant struggled to understand such horror in a country where he had come to seek a better life.

He struggled to forge the kind of close and family friendships that he and his colleagues at Windows on the World had shared. It was too painful, he learned, to get attached to people when “you have no control over what happens to them next”.

“Every 9/11 is a reminder of what I lost and can never get back,” says Siby, who is now president and CEO of ROC United. The restaurant workers advocacy group evolved from a relief center for Windows on the World workers who lost their jobs in the fall of the Twin Towers.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden plans to speak and lay a wreath at the Pentagon, while the first lady Jill Biden is scheduled to speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes crashed after passengers and crew tried to storm the cockpit as the hijackers headed for Washington. Al-Qaeda conspirators had taken control of the jets to use them as missiles loaded with passengers.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff joined the celebration at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York, but by tradition no political figures speak at the ground zero ceremony. Instead, it focuses on the relatives of the victims reading aloud the names of the dead.

Readers often add personal remarks that form an alloy of American feelings about 9/11 — grief, anger, toughness, appreciation for first responders and the military, appeals to patriotism, hopes for peace, the occasional political jab, and a poignant narrative. graduation ceremonies. , weddings, births and daily newspapers that the victims missed.

Some relatives also lament that a nation that united – to some extent – after the attacks has since splintered. So much so that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which were reshaped to focus on international terrorism after 9/11, now see the threat of domestic violent extremism as equally urgent.

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