Nearly 3,000 victims were commemorated in the United States during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Celebrations were held at three bombing sites: New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia. They were attended by, among others, President Joe Biden. US Vice President Kamala Harris said during the Shanksville celebrations that the 9/11 attacks showed that “unity is possible” and necessary for America’s prosperity and role in the world.
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists in the United States. A total of 2,996 people died there. There were also Poles among them: Anna De Bin (nee Pietkiewicz), Maria Jakubiak, Dorota Kopiczko, Jan Maciejewski, Łukasz Milewski and the son of the famous cyclist Norbert Szurkowski.
After hijacking four airliners, the hijackers struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The planned fourth attack was thwarted by passengers fighting the terrorists. The machine has crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Some of the anniversary celebrations have already ended. They took place at three bombing sites: New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia, where a third plane hit the Pentagon.
One minute of silence for attack victims
In New York, US President Joe Biden with his wife Jill and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, among others, attended the ceremony. At 8.46 (14.46 in Poland), the memory of the victims was commemorated with a minute of silence. At that time on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Relatives of the victims of the World Trade Center attack began reading the full list of names. American singer Bruce Springsteen performed the song “I’ll see you in my dreams”.
Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time, in an interview with the TVN correspondent of “Facts”, Marcin Wrona, said that “coming here is always very difficult for him”. – Actually, I avoid this place. Even when I go to Washington or New Jersey, I often choose a different, circular route, he added.
– It just brings up too many memories. Too many thoughts keep coming back in my head. Someone jumping out of the window, someone dying before my eyes, the fact that I myself was trapped in the building for 20 minutes. Then I try to concentrate on the heroism that we could observe then. Firefighters and policemen saved so many people. Thousands more people would have died if it had not been for a perfectly carried out rescue operation – he said.
American President Joe Biden, after leaving the ground zero, went to the celebrations in Shanksville.
Bush: 40 people, mostly strangers, changed the course of history
Former President George W. Bush, who spoke in Shanksville at a ceremony to commemorate the 40 passengers and crew on United Airlines Flight 93, said that “there are not many cultural points in common between violent foreign and domestic extremists.” “But in their contempt for pluralism, their disregard for human life and their determination to desecrate our national symbols, they are children of the same vile spirit,” he added. “It is our constant duty to oppose them,” he emphasized.
– 40 people, mostly strangers, changed the course of history. (…) They prayed, voted and struck. Although they all died (…) they won the first battle of the war against terrorism – said the head of the association of the families of the victims of the crash, Gordon Felt, brother of one of the passengers.
“The targets of this coup have become a means of rescue,” Bush said in turn.
The former president admitted that the 9/11 attacks changed the lives of Americans forever, and the security measures that continue to this day indicate that the threat has not passed, but has also spread to the domestic sphere due to native extremists.
Kamala Harris: Unity in America is Possible
US Vice President Kamala Harris said the September 11 attacks showed that “unity in America is possible” and necessary for America’s prosperity and role in the world.
– At the same time, we saw how fear can be used to divide our nation. Sikh and Muslim Americans were the target of attacks because of their appearance and the way they pray. But we also saw how many Americans (…) stood in solidarity with everyone, including those who experienced violence and discrimination – said the politician. – 40 passengers and crew members of flight 93 did not know each other, they were different people from different places (…) but the 40 acted in unity to save their lives and the lives of countless people in our country’s capital – she added.
Gen. Milley: We are closing a terrible chapter in our history
Gen. Mark Milley, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking American military, stated during a ceremony at the Pentagon that with the end of the Afghanistan war, America ended a “terrible chapter” in history after September 11, 2001. He added that for many who participated in these events there was it is a time of “conflicting emotions”.
– Pain and anger, sadness and regret, combined with pride and determination (…) But I am sure of one thing: for all soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, for all CIA officers, for all FBI agents, policemen and firefighters: your duty, your service mattered, your sacrifice was not in vain – the general assured.
Milley stated that the 184 people who died on September 11 at the Pentagon died because of what they represented and who they were.
– This was to disrupt our way of life and the idea of the Americas, the simple idea that all of us, regardless of skin color, whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jewish (…) we were created equal to rise and we fail on the basis of our merits, that we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press, ”said Milley. – Our enemies have always hated these ideas and they will do it: fascists, Nazis, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, autocrats, dictators, all kinds of tyrants. They tried to destroy us, divide us and scare us, but they failed. No terrorist can destroy this idea – added the general.
The Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin, who spoke after him, also compared America’s response to terrorist attacks with the US response to fascism during World War II. He stated that America could not defend its ideas without security.
At a ceremony in Arlington outside Washington, the names of all 184 victims of the bombing, Pentagon employees, and passengers and crew of American Airlines 77 flight from Washington to Los Angeles were listed. Biden is also scheduled to visit the site of the attack on Saturday afternoon.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / JUSTIN LANE