United States marks 21st anniversary of 9/11 attacks

americans are remembrance of september 11 with moments of silence, readings of names of victims, volunteer work and other tributes 21 years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

Relatives of the victims and dignitaries will gather Sunday at the scene where the hijacked planes crashed on September 11, 2001 – the World Trade Center in New York, 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.

The celebrations follow a milestone anniversary last year. It came weeks after the chaotic and humiliating end to the war in Afghanistan launched by the United States in response to the attacks.

But while this 9/11 may be less of an inflection point, it remains a point of reflection on the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, sparked a worldwide American ‘war on terror’ and reconfigured national security policy.

It also sparked – for a time – a sense of national pride and unity for many, while subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and spawning a debate about the balance between security and freedoms. civil. In both subtle and simple ways, the aftermath of 9/11 ripples through American politics and public life to this day.

Members of the New York Fire Department raise an American flag at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on September 11, 2022, on the 21st anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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,” said 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 Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon and delivered a speech honoring those killed in the attacks, saying the time that has passed “is both a life and no time at all. “.

“Terror struck us on that bright blue morning. The air filled with smoke, then came the sirens and the stories, the stories of those we lost, the stories of incredible heroism from that day terrible. American history itself changed on that day,” he said. . “But what we won’t change, what we can’t change, never will, is the character of this nation that the terrorists thought they could hurt.”

The president expressed his gratitude to the civilians and military who quickly responded to the Pentagon attack and to the Americans who joined the armed forces in the aftermath of 9/11, saying “we owe you.”

“Through all that has changed over the past 21 years, the enduring resolve of the American people to defend themselves against those who seek us harm and to bring justice to those responsible for attacks on our people has never wavered,” he said. he declared.

Mr. Biden also spoke about the importance of American democracy, saying that the American people have an obligation to defend and protect it. The president has sounded the alarm about what he sees as assaults on democracy by some within the Republican Party who refuse to recognize the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“American democracy depends on the habits of the heart, of ‘we the people,'” he said. “It’s not enough to defend democracy once a year, or once in a while. It’s something we have to do every day. So it’s not just a day to remember, but a day of renewal and renewal. resolve for every American and our dedication to this country, to the principles it embodies, to our democracy.”

First Lady Jill Biden was also due to speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes crashed after passengers and crew tried to storm the cockpit as the hijackers of the air were heading towards Washington. Al-Qaeda conspirators had taken control of the jets to use as missiles loaded with passengers.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff attended the ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial in New York, but by tradition no political figures speak. Rather, it focuses on 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 just as urgent.

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