It has been 16 years since one of the most devastating days in US history – a day which sparked more than a decade of relentless international conflict.Thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others gathered at the World Trade Centre today to remember what remains the deadliest attack on American soil.
After 16 years, the quiet rhythms of commemoration have become well known customs – a recitation of all the names of the dead, moments of silence, tolling bells, and two powerful light beams that shine through the night.
But each ceremony has personal touches, too. 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, such as ‘I love you and miss you. Go Packers!’
Last year, Judy Bram Murphy added: ‘Thank you New York for continuing to honour the victims of 9/11 and the privilege of reading their names.’ She lost her husband, Brian Joseph Murphy, in the attack.
Almost 3,000 people died when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre skyscrapers, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, is marking the anniversary for the first time as the country’s leader today.
He is scheduled to observe a moment of silence at around the time the first aeroplane hit the towers. The White House has said he will be joined by First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump is also expected to take part in a 9/11 observance at the Pentagon. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are hosting a private observance for victims’ relatives there at 9.11am local time.
After the names are read out at that ceremony, there will be a public observance with a wreath-laying and public addresses.
Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are going to deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville. It’s on the rural field where one of the planes crashed after passengers and crew fought to wrest control away from the terrorists who had hijacked it, and were heading for Washington DC.
Construction is ongoing at the Shanksville memorial, where a 93ft tall Tower of Voices will be built to honour the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died.
The ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial plaza in New York aims to be apolitical. Although politicians can attend, they haven’t been allowed to read names or deliver remarks since 2011.
Despite this, last year’s 15th anniversary ceremony became entangled in the fractious presidential campaign when Hillary Clinton left abruptly, stumbled into a van, and later revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia just days earlier.
Trump used the incident to bolster his claims that Clinton lacked the stamina required for the presidency, and used the footage of her staggering out of the ceremony in one of his campaign ads.
The President often invokes his memories of 9/11 to highlight his hometown’s resilience and responders’ bravery.
Some of his recollections, however, have raised eyebrows.
Particularly disturbing and contentious were his claims that ‘thousands of people were cheering’ in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the towers fell – referring to the city’s Muslim population. There is no evidence that American-Muslims celebrated the attacks in any way.
Meanwhile, rebuilding and reimagining continues at Ground Zero.
The third of four planned office towers is on course to open next year, as is a Greek Orthodox church next to the World Trade Centre that was crushed by the South Tower’s collapse.
Work towards a $250million (£190million) performing arts centre also continues, after a design was unveiled last autumn.
Plans were also 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.
Source: signaturetv.com.ng/metronewonline.com/Linus Aleke