US marks low-profile Sept 11 anniversary
People pause outside of the World Trade Center site on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. AFP photoAmericans paused again yesterday to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks with familiar ceremony, but also a sense that it’s time to move forward after a decade of remembrance.
As every year, relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed when hijacked airliners slammed into New York’s World Trade Center gathered at Ground Zero to read the names of the dead, Agence France-Presse reported.
This year, though, no politicians were joining in the reading and security was less intense, in contrast to the 10th anniversary last year.
President Barack Obama was to attend the Pentagon memorial in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden was to speak in Pennsylvania, The Associated Press reported.
For the first time, elected officials weren’t speaking at the ceremony, which often allowed them a solemn turn in the spotlight, but raised questions about the public and private Sept. 11 remembrances.
The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum announced in July that this year’s ceremony would include only relatives reading victims’ names.
As bagpipes played at the year-old Sept. 11 memorial in New York, family clutching balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m. local time, the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center’s north tower. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed the moment in a ceremony on the White House’s south lawn. Victims’ families in New York began the solemn, familiar ritual of reading the names of nearly 3,000 killed.
Thousands had attended the ceremony in New York in previous years, including last year’s milestone 10th anniversary. Fewer than 500 family members had gathered by yesterday morning, reading their loved ones’ names on the Sept. 11 memorial, built over the twin towers’ footprints.
On the eve of this year’s anniversary, the Taliban said the United States faces “utter defeat in Afghanistan militarily, politically, economically and in all other facets.” Most foreign troops are scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2014, handing over responsibility for combat to Western-backed Afghan government forces.