From ground zero to small towns, Americans on Monday commemorated the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, with minutes of silence, tears in their eyes and calls to teach new generations about the tragic events that occurred 22 years ago.
“For those of us who lost loved ones that day, that day is not over. Everyone else goes on with their lives. We have found a way to continue, but for us that day remains latent,” declared Edward Edelman at the World Trade Center in New York, where he paid tribute to his deceased brother-in-law, Daniel McGinley.
President Joe Biden plans to attend a ceremony at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska. His visit, a stop on his journey back to Washington after a tour of India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of the attacks was felt in every corner of the nation. Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes hit the World Trace Center, the Pentagon and a meadow in Pennsylvania, in an attack that reshaped American foreign policy and sparked national fears.
That day “we were one country, one nation, one people, as it should be. That was the feeling: that everyone came together to do what they could, wherever we were, to try to help,” Eddie Ferguson, fire chief of Goochland County in Virginia, said in an interview last week.
That largely rural county of 25,000 residents is more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Pentagon and three times that distance from New York. But it has its own memorial to 9/11 victims and holds two annual memorial events: one to honor rescuers and another to honor all victims.
At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris joined other dignitaries at the memorial plaza for the attacks. Instead of speeches from political figures, the ceremony featured survivors reading the names of the deceased, accompanied by brief personal messages.
Some included patriotic statements about American values and thanks to first responders and the military. One praised the Navy SEAL commando that took down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Another called for peace and justice. One acknowledged the many lives lost in the “war on terrorism” launched after the attacks. Many shared personal reflections about how they miss their loved ones.
“Although we never met, I feel honored to carry your name and your legacy with me,” said Manuel João DaMota Jr., who was born after his namesake father died.
Jason Inoa commemorated his grandfather, Jorge Velazquez. Inoa, 20, admitted that he was “extremely nervous” speaking at the ceremony, but said he did it for his grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
“The only thing she remembers is her husband,” she commented.
First lady Jill Biden will lay a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon, where a giant American flag hung from the side of the building, bells rang and musicians played Taps at 9:37 a.m. time when one of the hijacked planes hit the military headquarters.
Associated Press writers Julie Walker and Deepti Hajela in New York, Tara Copp in Washington and Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania contributed to this report.