Washington: Eleven years after terrorist attacks destroyed New York World Trade Centre’s twin towers, thousands gathered Tuesday at ground zero and elsewhere to remember nearly 3,000 victims, including 41 of Indian origin, in sombre ceremonies.
In the midst of a heated election campaign, both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney pulled their negative ads and avoided campaign rallies in a simple gesture of homage on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Putting grieving families ahead of politicians at ceremonies that suggested it’s time to move on after a decade of remembrance, thousands gathered at ground zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania to read the names of all those killed in the worst terror attack in US history.
As bagpipes played at the year-old Sep 11 memorial in New York, families clutching balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8.46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade centre’s north tower, CBS reported.
Bells tolled to mark the moments that planes crashed into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, and the moments that each tower collapsed.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed the moment in a ceremony on the White House’s south lawn, and then laid a white floral wreath at the Pentagon, above a concrete slab that said “Sept. 11, 2001 – 9.37 am.”
He later recalled the horror of the attacks, declaring, “Our country is safer and our people are resilient.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the governors of New York and New Jersey and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani all attended New York’s ceremony.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke to hundreds at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, saying the ceremonies were a reminder that the country hasn’t forgotten them.
Other ceremonies were held across the country – from New York’s Long Island, where hundreds wrote messages to their loved ones on a memorial, to Boston, where more than 200 people with ties to Massachusetts were remembered.