US commemorates 9-11

Thousands expected at ground zero as the US commemorates 9-11

While the U.S. contends with the destruction caused by two ferocious hurricanes in three weeks, Americans also are marking the anniversary of one of the nation’s most scarring days.

Thousands of 9-11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected to gather Monday at the World Trade Center to remember the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

Sixteen years later, the quiet rhythms of commemoration have become customs: a recitation of all the names of the dead, moments of silence and tolling bells, and two powerful light beams that shine through the night.

Yet each ceremony also takes on personal touches. Over the years, some name-readers have added messages ranging from the universal (“the things we think separate us really don’t — we’re all part of this one Earth”) to the personal (“I love you and miss you. Go Packers!”).

“Thank you, New York, for continuing to honour the victims of 9-11 and the privilege of reading their names,” Judy Bram Murphy added last year. She lost her husband, Brian Joseph Murphy.

Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the trade centre, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001, hurling America into a new consciousness of the threat of global terrorism.

President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker observing the anniversary for the first time as the nation’s leader, is scheduled to observe a moment of silence at about the time the first airplane hit. The White House said he is to be joined by first lady Melania Trump.

He also planned to participate in a 9-11 observance at the Pentagon. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are hosting a private observance for victims’ relatives there at 9:11 a.m. Monday. After the names are read at that ceremony, there’s a public observance, with a wreath-laying and remarks.

Vice-President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are scheduled to deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville. It’s on the rural field where one of the airliners crashed after passengers and crew fought to wrest control away from the terrorists who’d hijacked it and were heading for Washington.

Construction continues at the Shanksville memorial, where ground was broken Sunday for a 93-foot (28 metres) tall Tower of Voices to honour the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died.

The ceremony amid the waterfall pools and lines of trees on the National Sept. 11 Memorial plaza strives to be apolitical: Politicians can attend, but since 2011, they haven’t been allowed to read names or deliver remarks.

Yet last year’s 15th-anniversary ceremony became entangled in the narrative of a fractious presidential campaign when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton left abruptly, stumbled into a van and ultimately revealed she’d been diagnosed days earlier with pneumonia.

The episode fed into questions that then-Republican-nominee Trump had repeatedly raised about Clinton’s stamina and transparency. She took three days off to recover, and Trump used footage of her stagger in a campaign ad.

Trump has often invoked his memories of 9-11 to highlight his hometown’s resilience and responders’ bravery. Some of his recollections have raised eyebrows, particularly remarks while talking about Muslims that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the towers fell. There is no evidence in news archives of mass celebrations by Muslims there.

Meanwhile, rebuilding and reimagining continues at ground zero. The third of four planned office towers is set to open next year; so is a Greek Orthodox church, next to the trade centre site, that was crushed by the South Tower’s collapse. Work toward a $250 million performing arts centre continues after a design was unveiled last fall.

Most recently, plans were announced this spring to transform a grassy clearing on the memorial plaza into a walkway and area dedicated to 9-11 rescue and recovery workers, including those who died of illnesses years after being exposed to smoke, dust and ash at ground zero.

Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Quadra Street blocked for Jordan funeral procession

Victoria police officer died after 30 years in coma

Higher revenues and cuts add to lower tax bill in Saanich

Last-minute disagreements over the police budget defined the final round of deliberations… Continue reading

Saanich Peninsula French Immersion grads welcome new students

School District 63 ceremony marks student transition

Former Green candidate Veronica Greer running for seat on Esquimalt council

2017 B.C. election hopeful looks to bring LGBTQ lens to municipal politics

Celebrate Earth Day with Surfrider

Beach cleanup and social gathering Sunday at Clover Point

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

2 B.C. men deemed heroes for saving man from fire

Fire on Coronation Avenue in Duncan sends one man to hospital

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

B.C. has highest C-section rate in Canada: report

Researcher says it’s not necessarily a bad thing

Whistler to open Canada’s first pod hotel

Pangea Pod Hotel to feature units big enough to fit a queen-sized mattress and not much else

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

Thieves target B.C. firefighters helping flood victims

The service has been helping with sandbagging efforts, as rural Oliver battles flooding

Housing crisis amplified on Denman Island

High rental prices, density caps, and a shortage of housing stock have led to island-wide struggles

B.C. towns rank in top honeymoon destination worldwide

Vernon, Kaslo, Sunshine Coast and the Island hit Expedia.ca’s list of top 18 honeymoon destinations

Most Read