US remembers the day that changed their lives

September 12th, 2011 - 1:35 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New York, Sep 11 (IANS) A moment of silence fell across America Sunday as the nation remembered the horror of the 9/11 terror attacks that killed 2,977 people, including 41 Indian Americans, and changed their lives for ever.

Thousands gathered Sunday at New York’s Ground Zero. Some stood still in silence, and some cried as they listened to the names of victims of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks being read aloud by relatives.

“They were our neighbours, our friends, our wives, children and parents,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, along with President Barack Obama, helped lead the commemoration on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Bloomberg opened the ceremony by recalling the “perfect blue sky” that became marred with smoke and flames. “Since then, we’ve lived in sunlight and shadow,” he said.

He called the moment of silence at 8.46 a.m. — 10 years to the minute after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. A single bell marked the start of the silence.

At 9.03 a.m., a second moment of silence was observed to recall the second plane, United Flight 175, hitting the World Trade Center.

At the ceremony, Obama and first lady Michelle stood behind bullet-proof protection. Obama read the biblical Psalm 46.

Former president George W. Bush, who was reading to school children in Florida at the time of the attack, read a letter sent by Abraham Lincoln to a woman who lost five sons in the Civil War.

Those who lost loved ones in the attacks stepped forward to read names. The reading of the names was accompanied by a single instrument, first a cello, then a flute.

The emotional reading moved many in the crowd to tears. Many of those reading the names of the dead struggled to speak through tears.

Earlier, Obama and Bush walked the site of the attacks. The two men held hands with their wives while looking at the names of the dead in the just-opened 9/11 Memorial. Obama gazed upward quietly, and the rest followed his lead as he stepped forward, his hands grazing the names on the wall.

In Washington, mourners observed a moment of silence at 9.37 a.m. — the moment American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon and killed 184 people.

And at 10:03 a.m., silence fell on Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where passengers on board United Airlines Flight 93 thwarted a hijacking plot and crashed the plane into the ground.

At a ceremony at the Pentagon, Vice President Joe Biden and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta vowed to relentlessly pursue the Al Qaeda until it is dismantled.

At the Pentagon Memorial, 184 soldiers each laid a single wreath of white flowers on 184 wing-shaped benches one by one, on which the names of the dead were inscribed.

“You will not stop until Al Qaeda is not only disrupted, but completely dismantled and ultimately destroyed,” Biden said of the US military fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He noted the “incredible price” the military has paid for the wars, including 4,478 troops fallen in Iraq, 1,648 in Afghanistan, and more than 40,000 wounded in both countries, some of whom will require “care and support the rest of their lives”.

Panetta said: “To this day, and by these memorials to each victim, we pledge to never forget the enemy that made this happen, why we fight them, and why we will never stop fighting them to make sure that what happened here and in New York City and in the field in Pennsylvania never happens again.”

Later, Obama paid a visit to Shanksville - the crash site of the United Flight 93.

Accompanied by first lady Michelle, the president laid a wreath in front of the Wall of Names — comprising white marble slabs where the names of 40 victims of the crash have been inscribed.

The president observed a moment of silence. He then shook hands with family members of the victims. Obama, however, did not give any speech or remarks.

Obama took a helicopter to Shanksville from Pittsburg after flying into that city on board Air Force One from New York, where he attended a ceremony at Ground Zero.

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