Alaska Mirror

  /  News   /  9/11 Tributes Live: Videos, Photos and Speeches in the U.S.

9/11 Tributes Live: Videos, Photos and Speeches in the U.S.

Randy Moore, 56, and John Fackre, 76, are U.S. Army veterans at ground zero today. “The horror here in 2001 was worse than anything I saw in Vietnam,” said Mr. Fackre. Remembering the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he added, “Bush did the right thing, but it dragged on for too long. “

Credit…Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris and First Gentleman Doug Emhoff arriving in Pennsylvania on Saturday for the commemoration events at the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

At a memorial for the passengers who fought back against terrorists aboard United Airlines Flight 93, Vice President Kamala Harris warned that the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks had shown how “fear can be used to sow division,” and stressed that America’s diversity was its greatest asset.

“If we do the hard work of working together as Americans, if we remain united in purpose,” Ms. Harris said while speaking at a memorial service near Shanksville, Pa., “we will be prepared for whatever comes next.”

The Biden administration has used the solemnity of the day to plead for Americans to view what happened on Sept. 11 as a useful lesson for the current political and cultural divisions wrought, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic. Ms. Harris, memorializing the 40 passengers aboard Flight 93 who fought back against hijackers, encouraged Americans to remember their sacrifice.

“On this 20th anniversary, on this solemn day of remembrance, we must challenge ourselves to, yes, look back. For the sake of our children. For the sake of their children,” Ms. Harris said. “And for that reason, we must also look forward. We must also look toward the future. Because in the end, that is what the 40 were fighting for: Their future. And ours.”

“On the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, 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 vice president took the stage after former President George W. Bush, Deb Haaland, the secretary of the interior, and Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania delivered their own remarks. Mr. Bush, too, stressed the importance of Americans coming together.

“On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another,” Mr. Bush said. “That is the America I know.”

In his remarks at the Flight 93 ceremony, Bush compared domestic extremists in the United States to the Sept. 11 hijackers, calling them the “children of the same foul spirit” and adding, “It is our duty to confront them.”

The Bidens have arrived in Pennsylvania to lay a wreath at the memorial site.

This photograph of Michele Defazio remains, for me, a reminder of the kindness of strangers. I think of her every Sept. 11. I watched Michele walk alone toward the Bowery, where a missing persons reporting station had been set up. Carrying her homemade fliers with her husband’s photograph, her grief and worry overwhelmed her, and she paused for the briefest of moments. Strangers on the street also paused to comfort her. In the days following the attack, we would learn that 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees — including Michele’s husband, Jason — died in the attack. I later covered their memorial service, crying while making photographs.

Credit…Krista Niles/The New York Times

More than 500 people, many of them firefighters in full uniforms, climbed 2,200 steps at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday to remember the victims of Sept. 11.

“I’m just paying respect to all the lives that died that day,” said German Moreno, a Chicago firefighter. Mr. Moreno, 38, said he was drawn to the profession, in part, by the heroism of emergency workers who died on 9/11. Mr. Moreno climbed the steps in full gear on Saturday morning.

Credit…Robert Chiarito

The event in Chicago was one of 40 stair climbs around the country. Participants climbed or walked the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center, each wearing a badge with the name and photo of one of the emergency workers who died in the attacks.

Many firefighters from the Chicago area took part.

Omar Juarez, 23 and a firefighter from Westmont, Ill., was too young to remember 9/11, but he said the events resonated with him nonetheless.

“It could happen to any one of us. It makes you realize how fragile life is,” Mr. Juarez said.

Marisa Price, a 25-year-old firefighter from Westmont, said she found herself thinking about what must have been going through the minds of New York firefighters as they worked to rescue people that day.

“I’ll be thinking of them waking up and going to work like a normal day and then having to face the horrors of what happened, having to walk up those towers,” she said. “A lot of them were my age at the time and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

A dozen 911 dispatchers from Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management also took part in the memorial climb on Saturday.

Brenda Holifield, a dispatcher, said she was on the job 20 years ago, and often thinks of dispatchers who took calls that day.

“I can feel how they felt,” said Ms. Holifield, 47. “Your heart goes out because they must have felt helpless but stayed calm and did their job.”

Before the climb began, members of the Chicago Fire Department presented the colors, bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” and Talia Martino, a 17-year-old senior from James B. Conant High School in suburban Hoffman Estates, sang the national anthem.


Video player loading
CreditCredit…Greg Kahn for The New York Times

Thousands of veterans who served in the wars that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks struggle with issues that are often invisible to those around them. Some are suffering from health problems and trauma, and others from feelings of displacement and alienation, which for many grew more intense as the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last month and the Taliban regained control of the country.

“It is one of those things you have to leave in God’s hands,” Jen Burch said of her health issues. “To someone looking at me, I look like a very healthy 34-year-old woman, and I am not.”

Once an active runner, she developed breathing problems after she was exposed to toxic burn pits in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Watching Kandahar, where she had tried to make a difference, and then the entire country quickly fall to the Taliban exacerbated her pain.

“It all feels like a complete failure,” she said from her home in Washington, D.C. “I have my own demons from my time there, and I worry about other veterans and the defeat they must be feeling.”

Some veterans are wondering if the wars were worth it, said Bonnie Carroll, the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a support organization for those grieving the death of a service member.

“In World War I and World War II, if you died, you most likely died on the battlefield,” she said. “But many of our loved ones are now bringing the war home with them and dying from suicide as a result of post-traumatic stress or illness as a result of exposures.”

U.S. officials estimate that more than 3.5 million service members who deployed were exposed to toxic smoke from the roughly 250 pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Biden has said that he believes toxic substances from burn pits contributed to the brain cancer of his son Beau, who served with the Delaware Army National Guard at Balad Air Base in Iraq and died of the illness in 2015.

Also at ground zero, hymns by the Pioneer Valley Mennonite Fellowship choir from Western Massachusetts.

It is nearly three hours into the reciting of the names in New York. The surnames are a snapshot of the nation itself: McSweeney, McWilliams, Medaglia, Medina, Mehta, Meisenheimer, Mejia, Melaku.

Former President George W. Bush also made an appeal to unity, saying that the country banded together in the immediate period after the attacks in days that “seem distant from our own.”

Still, Bush’s remarks may have given a somewhat idealistic view of the country. For example, he said that Americans rejected prejudice and nativism, but many Muslim Americans have described experiencing a wave of anti-Muslim hate after 9/11.

From all of the messaging we’ve seen today from the White House, it is clear that the Biden administration is using this rare moment of collective solemnity as a way to remind Americans that there is strength in diversity and in unity.

The crowd around the perimeter of ground zero has begun to thin out, but some have remained behind, including people saying prayers in the nearby cemetery of Saint Paul’s Chapel.

“What happened on Flight 93 told us then, and it still tells us so much, about the courage of those on board,” Harris said about the passengers who overtook hijackers. “We must challenge ourselves, yes, to look back. To remember. For the sake of our children, for the sake of their children.”

Former President Geroge W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the Flight 93 National Memorial outside Shanksville, Pa., on Saturday.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Former President George W. Bush commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Saturday at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, recalling a time of American unity and drawing a sharp contrast with the present-day divisiveness of the country’s politics.

Mr. Bush, who was joined by the former first lady, Laura Bush, was in his first year as president when the attacks took place.

“For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced,” Mr. Bush said at a ceremony held at the memorial. “There was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it.”

He added that “the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people, and we were proud of our wounded nation.”

Recalling how the American people responded to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush painted a starkly different picture compared with the embittered politics of the present day.

“In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient united people,” he said, though many Muslim Americans reported facing heightened discrimination in the wake of the attacks. “When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own.”

He continued: “Malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”

“I come without explanations or solutions,” Mr. Bush added. “I can only tell you what I’ve seen. On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.”

In his remarks, Mr. Bush paid tribute to the passengers and crew members of Flight 93, which crashed in a field after those on board fought back against the hijackers and diverted them from their intended target.

“Many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field,” he said.

During his presidency and in the wake of 9/11, Mr. Bush led the nation into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Speaking less than two weeks after the last American troops left Afghanistan, he acknowledged in his remarks that military actions over the past two decades “have led to debate.”

He offered a message for veterans, saying they had been “a force for good in the world” and adding, “Nothing that has followed, nothing, can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments.”

Kamala Harris, the vice president, just took the stage in Pennsylvania. “We stand today with all of those who lost someone on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of the attacks. So many in our nation — too many in our nation — have deeply felt the passage of time these last 20 years.”

As the United States marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, memorials have been held around the world, and tributes have been paid by global leaders, in memory of the victims, survivors and families affected.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the victims of the attacks in a video address played at a memorial event at the Olympic Park in East London.

Mr. Johnson said that while the threat from terrorists remained, the last 20 years had shown that “they failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy; they failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear.”

In a message to President Biden, Queen Elizabeth II said, “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.”

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, who was in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, described it as a “day I’ll never forget.”

In a statement, Ms. Ardern said: “I saw first hand the shock and fear that goes hand in hand with terrorism.”

Many world leaders took to Twitter to commemorate the attacks, including the prime ministers of Ireland, Greece and Canada — Micheál Martin, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Justin Trudeau — and the presidents of France and South Korea, Emmanuel Macron and Moon Jae-in.

“20 years have passed, but the shock of that day still remains as deep wounds in the hearts of so many,” Mr. Moon said.

In Madrid, staff from the U.S. embassy placed a floral wreath at a memorial in Juan Carlos I Park. From the compound of the U.S. embassy, two giant light beams pierced the night on Friday, shining up into the sky to represent the twin towers.

Flags flew at half-staff outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general and Douglas D. Jones, the U.S. chargé d’affaires, held a moment of silence at the Sept. 11 memorial — a piece of twisted metal from the World Trade Center — at the precise minute that the first plane struck the North Tower of the complex.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India described the 9/11 attack as an “attack on humanity.”

Raphael Minder contributed reporting from Madrid.

One notable absence from the Manhattan ceremony is former President Donald J. Trump, a native New Yorker. In the midst of the name-reading ceremony, Mr. Trump sent out a statement praising Rudolph W. Giuliani as “the greatest mayor in the history of New York City.” Mr. Trump has claimed that he spent extensive time with first responders in the aftermath of the attacks, but first responders have said that claim is exaggerated. Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that he would be traveling to Manhattan later in the day Saturday, but he is scheduled to provide commentary for a pay-per-view boxing match in Florida.

A mourner inside the 9/11 Memorial at Logan International Airport in Boston on Saturday.
Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

Boston was not physically damaged on Sept. 11. But its Logan International Airport served as the launching pad for the two jets that crashed into the World Trade Center after being hijacked, and on Saturday, mourners visited a memorial glass cube at the airport, as well as a garden of American flags.

Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

United Airlines Flight 175 departed from Logan for Los Angeles at 7:58 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 11 with 65 people aboard. Five of them were hijackers.

American Airlines Flight 11, with 92 people aboard, including five hijackers, took off a minute later.

Within 65 minutes, both planes had struck their targets.

This is on the Brooklyn Bridge just after the second tower collapsed as an exodus of survivors slowly made its way out of the smoke and into the sunlight. I ran into Joseph Sylvester, who said he worked at the World Financial Center. He was covered in ash, and his head was bleeding from a piece of debris that had fallen on him. He said he was looking for his father, who worked in the area. I’ll never forget how calm and quiet they were. I think everyone must have been in shock — just silently, slowly making their way to safety.

Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The United States Flag was unfurled from the roof of the Pentagon early on Saturday.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Under sunny skies in Arlington, Va., Lloyd J. Austin III, the secretary of defense, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring the 184 people killed in the terrorist attack on the symbol of the U.S. military 20 years ago.

One by one, the names of the civilians, employees and contractors of the Defense Department and service members who were killed at the Pentagon were read aloud before 9:37 a.m., the moment 20 years ago when American Airlines Flight 77, one of the four hijacked airliners, crashed into the Pentagon.

The reading of the names was followed by remarks from Pentagon leadership, who spoke at the base of the building before a flag draped over its walls.

“They were irreplaceable to their families, instrumental in their jobs, woven into the fabric of their community,” General Milley said, speaking before dozens in attendance.

Some people who survived the attack on Sept. 11 still work in the building 20 years later.

“The hallways that we tread were the ones where so many of them walked. It will always be our duty to fulfill their missions and live up to their goodness and to stand guard over this democracy,” said Mr. Austin, his voice wavering with emotion. “We still work here. We still remember.”

At this moment 20 years ago, the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. More than 1,600 people were killed.

It took me a long time that morning to find a covert way past the police barricade perimeter to where the towers fell. As I climbed over precarious piles of rubble, two firefighters caught my eye. They were walking quickly, and I could hear their conversation. I learned they had just located a firefighter from Ladder 21. They rushed past me, and I raised my camera as they told the firefighter that his brother, also a firefighter, was known to be inside one of the towers when it collapsed and was believed to have died. His shoulders fell, and he was embraced in a moment of shared grief.

Credit…Krista Niles/The New York Times

The president and first lady have departed New York City. They will travel to Shanksville, Pa., next, and then on to the Pentagon.

Some of the young people in the area went off to fight in the wars that followed the Sept. 11 attacks; some of them never returned. Remembering the soldiers who died in those wars is the focus of a new park, right outside the entrance to the national memorial, one of several homegrown tributes that have sprouted up in the countryside around Shanksville over the last two decades. Read our dispatch from Shanksville.

Time contracts when I remember, and I am back under an emergency vehicle, in complete blackness, with what felt like sandpaper being dragged through my throat. Then I am catapulted through Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Second Intifada and the war in Iraq, and then back to the United States.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Just days after the crash, some people in the Shanksville area understood that it was now their obligation to memorialize the tragedy. They have been at work ever since, greeting visitors to the site, recording the history as it happened and volunteering or working at the National Flight 93 Memorial, which opened to the public 10 years ago.

Carl Gajewski, a DNA lab supervisor, demonstrating a “bone mill,” which crushes remains that can be used to extract DNA to help identify victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

“I didn’t know they were still attempting that after all these years, that it was something that was ongoing,” said Nykiah Morgan, 44, a personal assistant. “At this point, what is it that you’re sifting through?”

For 20 years, the medical examiner’s office has quietly conducted the largest missing persons investigation ever undertaken in the nation — testing and retesting the 22,000 body parts painstakingly recovered from wreckage after the attacks. Scientists are still testing the vast inventory of unidentified remains for a genetic connection to the 1,106 victims — roughly 40 percent of the ground zero death toll — who are still without a match so that their families can reclaim the remains for a proper burial.

Like relatives of most of the other victims, Ms. Morgan had submitted a reference sample nearly two decades ago of her mother’s DNA — so long ago, she does not recall what it was. But through new technology, the medical examiner’s office matched her sample to a tiny bone fragment found amid the thousands of remains.

“I didn’t know they were still attempting that after all these years, that it was something that was ongoing,” Ms. Morgan said. “At this point, what is it that you’re sifting through?”

Her mother, Dorothy Morgan, became the 1,646th World Trade Center victim to be identified through DNA testing. She was working as an insurance broker in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when she disappeared in the rubble. Remarkably, the 1,647th match came days later: a man whose name the agency did not release in accordance with his family’s wishes.

They were the first positive identifications since 2019. Victim identifications come less than once a year today, a far cry from the years immediately following 2001, when there were hundreds of identifications each year.

The crash of Flight 93 has not fundamentally changed the town of Shanksville, Pa., which is still small and quiet, with more churches than stores. But it changed the lives of many of its residents.

A procession of uniformed firefighters from scores of departments all over the country, as well as the New York City fire department, is now leaving ground zero.

I heard glass breaking and a voice calling out through the darkness of the cloud of the fallen first tower. I crawled out from under the emergency vehicle where I had sheltered and made my way to the voice, inside the Stage Door Deli on Vesey Street. It was a surreal scene: Firefighters, police and a few civilians stumbled around, catching their breath, spitting out mouthfuls of mud, lit only by the eerily glowing lights of the display case holding cold cuts and cheeses for that day’s sandwiches. Officer Richard Adamiak bent over, coughing. In the background of the photo is the entrance to the deli. One should have seen brilliant sunshine streaming in on that beautiful September morning. Instead, the neighborhood was engulfed in darkness.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

At this moment 20 years ago, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in southern Pennsylvania after a struggle onboard between a team of hijackers and the flight’s passengers. Everyone on board was killed.

If I hadn’t swapped for the long lens that I had on my camera two days before; if I hadn’t gone to the West Side because the road was blocked; if I hadn’t stopped at that moment, out of breath after running toward the World Trade Center; if I hadn’t looked at the burning tower thinking, “Wow, it looks like it could collapse any second,” if I hadn’t … I still don’t know why I was destined to capture that moment.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

More than an hour into the recitation of the names of the Sept. 11 victims at the New York memorial, the letter F has been reached: Zoe Falkenberg, who was aboard Flight 77. Jamie Lynn Fallon, a Navy storekeeper who died at the Pentagon. William Fallon, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald at One World Trade Center.

At this moment 20 years ago, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in 10 seconds. More than 800 civilians and first responders inside the building and in the surrounding area were killed.

Many onlookers at ground zero this morning are children and teenagers who were not even alive when the 9/11 attacks happened. Ariana and Briana Mendoza, 13, are twins from the Bronx who came down with their sister Dephaney, 22, center, to pay their respects. “I was only 2 when it happened, but I have learned a lot about it, and now I am teaching them,” said Dephaney. “We take pride in being New Yorkers, and this was an attack on our home.”

There are a lot of so-called 9/11 truthers down at ground zero this morning. Here is one with his own thematic longboard.

Beginning Friday afternoon, dozens of New York first responders and members of the Army’s special forces marched 50 miles through New York City carrying 50 pounds on their backs. They were on a mission to raise money for the families of those killed on Sept. 11 and for those who lost loved ones in the ensuing 20-year war on terror.

The walk, known as “50 for the Fallen,” started at Yankee Stadium and finished at ground zero Saturday morning.

At this moment 20 years ago, officials evacuated the White House and U.S. Capitol.

At this moment 20 years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all flights in the United States to land.

The president released a pre-recorded message last night to commemorate the day and give an update of sorts to what he said 20 years ago about the country’s ability to withstand a crisis like Sept. 11. “We saw national unity bend. We learned that the unity is the one thing that must never break,” he said in the video message, which was posted to his Twitter account. “Unity is what makes us who we are, America at its best. To me, that’s the central lesson of Sept. 11. It’s that at our most vulnerable, in the push and pull of all that makes us human, in the battle of the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength.”

At this moment 20 years ago, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. All on board, as well as many civilian and military personnel in the building, were killed.

Sailors at the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, Pa., on Saturday.
Credit…Kristian Thacker for The New York Times

Former President George W. Bush spoke on Saturday morning at a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pa., offering words of remembrance 20 years after the terrorist attacks that took place in his first year as president.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke shortly after Mr. Bush.

At the ceremony, the names of the 40 passengers and crew members were read aloud as bells tolled. The flight crashed in a field after passengers on board fought back against the hijackers, thwarting an attack on Washington.

Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania said those on board Flight 93 “sacrificed themselves to save the lives of strangers.”

“This story and this place remind us each day of what it means to be an American,” he said.

President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, are scheduled to visit the Flight 93 memorial later Saturday for a wreath-laying ceremony.

At this moment 20 years ago, President Bush told Americans in brief remarks: “Terrorism against our nation will not stand.”

“Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” by the artist Spencer Finch, is on display at the museum.
Credit…Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan, the host of this morning’s ceremony, is no stranger to controversy, whether before its 2014 opening or in recent days.

This week, as they have in years past, local Muslim advocates called for the removal of one of the museum’s trustees, Debra Burlingame, calling some of her comments Islamophobic.

“Ms. Burlingame’s long history of making bigoted remarks about Islam and Muslims are simply antithetical to the purpose of the 9/11 Museum,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a large Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

Ms. Burlingame, whose brother, Charles Burlingame, was killed when the plane he was piloting, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, was an outspoken critic of a onetime plan to build a mosque and cultural center two blocks from ground zero.

On another issue, museum officials recently announced that they were dropping plans for special exhibitions set for this year, after a budget crisis during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the nonprofit museum furloughing and laying off a large portion of its staff.

Then there was the flap over “The Outsider,” a documentary released this month about the museum that includes scenes showing museum leaders in conflict over the framing of exhibition storylines.

Steven Rosenbaum, who co-directed the film with his wife, Pamela Yoder, said the museum demanded the removal of numerous sensitive scenes it called defamatory, which the couple refused.

Now the couple, who donated to the museum a vast archive of video footage in exchange for broad filming access, wants the footage back because of museum policies that control the usage of its archival materials by historians and scholars, Mr. Rosenbaum said.

A museum spokeswoman had no comment on the controversies and a message left with her for Ms. Burlingame was not returned.

There have been other disputed moves by the museum, including its decision to sell trinkets at its gift shop and hold a cocktail reception for big donors within its hallowed walls.

After a closure in 2020 during the pandemic, the museum’s attendance has remained diminished. It canceled plans for its annual Tribute in Light last year out of social distancing concerns, but quickly reversed course and restored the display after protests.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

That Tuesday, the sky was so clear and bright blue as I was sitting in my eighth-grade class. Our teacher, Ms. Graham, asked everyone to sit in place, then stepped out of the classroom.

When Ms. Graham came back, everything changed. As a native New Yorker, and someone who still lives in New York, I think about that day often. I think about how even a small family like mine — it was just my mom, brother, sister and me — living as far away from ground zero as Harlem, was affected by the events of Sept. 11. I think about how most of us who were in the city carry that day — those we have lost and those who managed to return home — close to the surface. For many of us, there is still a hole in our skyline.

The city felt like it had accidentally fallen into a black hole. There was no one who could come help us and no way for a majority of us to get out. Those of us who were here that day, sitting with our eyes glued to newscasts, can still remember how that felt.

Sometimes that feeling seems like a suit of armor that I wear: knowing I am from a city strong enough to overcome the darkest of days, a day when people fell from the sky. But inside that armor, there’s always an itch, a sadness for the girl I was, just 13 years old, experiencing something more monumental than my brain could grasp.

Bruce Springsteen, wearing a suit and strumming an acoustic guitar, performed “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” a song from his 2020 album “Letter to You.”

“This nation is too big, too strong, too united, too much a power in terms of our cohesion and our values to let this break us apart,” Mr. Biden said in a television interview that day. “And it won’t happen.” It is interesting to look back on this assertion 20 years later.

The president is standing with his head bowed as he listens to the list of names. He was a senator when the planes hit the towers. He has said he was commuting from Delaware to Washington and was on the phone with his wife, Jill, when the first plane hit.

At this moment 20 years ago, President Bush was preparing to read a book to elementary school children in Sarasota, Fla., when he was told that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that America was under attack.

Katie Mascali and her fiancé, Andre Jabban, stood near the name of Ms. Mascali’s father, Joseph Mascali, who was with FDNY Rescue 5.
Credit…Pool photo by Craig Ruttle

On a brilliant, cloudless late-summer morning eerily reminiscent of the fateful one two decades before, the memorial ceremony for those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, got underway on the hallowed spot in Lower Manhattan known as ground zero.

At 8:46 a.m., 20 years to the minute after American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, there was a moment of silence, and church bells rang across New York City.

Then, in a broad, tree-lined plaza where reflecting pools have replaced the towers, a slow recitation of 2,983 names — the people killed at the trade center, the Pentagon, aboard Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and in an earlier 1993 bombing at the trade center — began.

President Biden is in attendance with the first lady, Jill Biden. So are former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who is now chairman of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

None of the dignitaries are speaking at the ceremony, which is otherwise open only to the families of the victims.

The ceremony consists mostly of the reading of the names, recited by relatives of the dead. But just after 9 a.m., Bruce Springsteen, strumming an acoustic guitar, performed “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” a song from his 2020 album “Letter to You.”

“When all the summers have come to an end,” he sang, “I’ll see you in my dreams. We’ll meet and live and love again.”

A view of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Credit…George Etheredge for The New York Times

The architects Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss took to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Others started bicycling. For a while, a small flotilla, Dunkirk-like, ferried neighbors across the East River, colonizing the waterways as a sixth borough.

After Sept. 11, New Yorkers did what they do — coped, improvised, found one another in public spaces, reimagined the city. Two decades on, Lower Manhattan, still a work in progress, is mostly better than it was. The outcome seemed unlikely for a time. The reconstruction at ground zero was a mess and remains a massive, missed opportunity.

But it may well be the mess, not the memorial or the office towers — half conceived to reignite the economy, half as middle fingers raised to Osama bin Laden — that has ended up being the ultimate retort to Sept. 11 and the emblem of New York’s resilience.

City-building in a fractious democracy is a slow, lurching, multipronged process, after all. The southern tip of what the Lenape called Mannahatta has been contested territory and a civic petri dish since the September morning in 1609 when a community of Lenape watched a Dutch ship, carrying Henry Hudson, sail through the Narrows.

In the wake of another September morning, New York has become less Manhattan-centered since the attack on the twin towers, less a hub with spokes and more multi-nodal, hastening the booms in Brooklyn and Queens. The old model of urban economics, agglomerated vertically in a clutch of downtown skyscrapers, has gradually ceded to a broader vision of mobility, remote access and live-work neighborhoods. After Sept. 11, proponents of walking, cycling, public transit and public space began to find allies on Wall Street and in City Hall, ones who recognized Lower Manhattan’s viability depending on more than a memorial and commercial skyscrapers where the twin towers had stood.

It involved attracting highly educated workers who were increasingly gravitating to lively streets, rejuvenated waterfronts, signature parks, bike lanes and loads of restaurants and entertainment.

“For us and many of our friends who started walking across the bridge,” as Manfredi puts it, “9/11 fundamentally changed how we envisioned the city.”

Source link

Post a Comment