By Bill Pan
Moments of silence were observed around the United States on Sept. 11 in remembrance of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. homeland soil 22 years ago.
At the site of New York’s fallen World Trade Center towers, hundreds of people paused in silence as a bell tolled at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first hijacked airplane crashed into the north tower—the beginning of a series of attacks that reduced the beloved landmark to rubble, killed nearly 3,000 people, and spurred a war on terror that lasted two decades.
Against the mournful flute music, the names of every person killed on the sunny Tuesday morning of Sept. 11, 2001, were read aloud by their surviving loved ones in an outpouring of emotion.
Many left flowers, flags, and small toys on the stone on which the names of their dead loved ones were inscribed in bronze. Some used pencils to rub the names on paper. Others leaned against the stone and sobbed.
The ceremony brought a bipartisan group of politicians to the place where the Twin Towers had stood. Among them were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife.
Also present were New York Mayor Eric Adams and his predecessors Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. Hailed as “America’s mayor” for his steady leadership in the wake of the crisis, Mr. Giuliani, in recent years, has found himself targeted by the rising Democrat-led scrutiny over his questioning of the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.
Vice President Kamala Harris stepped in to mark the event for President Joe Biden, who this year broke the tradition of a sitting president commemorating the day at either one of the attack sites or the White House.
Instead, President Biden was set to speak later in the day at a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, with service members and first responders at a stop on his way back to Washington from a trip to Vietnam.
There were smaller ceremonies in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, the other two sites that were attacked that day.
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a remembrance ceremony was held at the national memorial dedicated to Flight 93, the United Airlines flight on which 33 passengers and a seven-member crew fought back against the hijackers and brought the airplane down to the ground before it could get to Washington.
A temporary Flight 93 memorial was established at the crash site in 2002 and was replaced by a permanent one in 2011, marking the 10th anniversary of what’s remembered as more than a tragedy but also a story of selfless heroism.
“We recall the sacrifice of 40 air travelers and crew who epitomize the home of the brave so that we can live in the land of the free,” said Jeffrey Myers, a Pittsburgh rabbi who led the prayer at this year’s ceremony on Sept. 11.
“We recognize that an entire generation has been born that did not experience 9/11. Ours is the gift of memory, and with memory comes responsibility, the determination to share our stories with this next generation, so that through that our loved ones continue to live.”
In other communities across the nation, people gathered at memorials, firehouses, town halls, and campuses to pay tribute with moments of silence, tolling bells, candlelight vigils, and other activities.
Remains of Two Victims Identified
On Sept. 8, New York officials announced that the remains of two more people who died in the 9/11 attacks have been identified as part of a decades-long effort to return them to their families.
The remains belonged to a man and a woman, whose names are being withheld at the request of their families. They’re the 1,648th and 1,649th World Trade Center victims identified using DNA testing of body fragments recovered from the site.
According to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), advancements in DNA sequencing technology not only made the tests faster but also allowed the lab to identify remains that previously returned negative results for identifiable DNA.
The same methods have been used to identify missing service members in the U.S. military and more recently, to test the remains of more than 100 people who died during the wildfires in Hawaii.
“More than 20 years after the disaster, these two new identifications continue to fulfill a solemn pledge that OCME made to return the remains of World Trade Center victims to their loved ones,” Dr. Jason Graham, New York’s chief medical examiner, said in a statement. “Faced with the largest and most complex forensic investigation in the history of our country, we stand undaunted in our mission to use the latest advances in science to serve this promise.”