Thousands gathered Sunday to marked a milestone for the United States: the terrorist attacks that shook the nation to its very core 15 years ago.
In lower Manhattan, a recitation of the names of those killed in both 2001 and in an earlier terrorist attack in 1993 on the Twin Towers were read aloud at the 9/11 Memorial. Those reading the names included family members of victims from both attacks, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The four airliners that crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers, into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and into a field outside rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania marked what many consider the beginning of terrorism in the U.S.
That day and the nearly 3,000 men and women who died in the attacks were remembered across the nation with various memorial ceremonies. Special services were planned at each of the spots where four planes crashed, CNN reported.
“September 11, 2001 touched every single one of us,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday at at memorial held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for city firefighers. “There is no New Yorker who somehow evaded the pain of that day. We all felt it. We all were affected. Everyone felt it. Everyone suffered.”
The ceremony in New York City included six moments of silence, each timed for the events that occurred that day. The first plane struck the north World Trade Center Tower at 8:46 a.m. The second plane struck the South Tower at9:03 a.m.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attended the ceremony, which comes just after changes for the area were unveiled. The World Trade Center transit hub opened in March, with a soaring Oculus centerpiece. In August, the Westfield World Trade Center, a $1.4 billion shopping complex opened. Thursday, officials announced plans for a performing arts center at the site, saying Barbra Streisand would be the chairperson for the project.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford addressed those who lost loved ones when a plane hit the Pentagon.
“Across our country today, citizens are coming together in service and remembrance,” Obama said. “We walk the hallowed grounds of a Pennsylvania field. We look up at a gleaming tower that pierces the New York City skyline. In the end, the most enduring memorial to those we lost is ensuring the America we continue to be and we stay true to ourselves. Stay true to what’s best in us, that we do not let others divide us.
“As Americans, we do not give in to fear,” the president said. “We will preserve our freedoms and the way of life that makes us a beacon to the world. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you. Write them on the tablet of your heart,” he said, quoting Bible. “How we conduct ourselves as individuals and as a nation, we have he opportunity each and every day to live up to the sacrifice of those heroes that we lost.”
A service is also planned to take place Sunday at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was scheduled to join more than 450 motorcyclists riding in a 9/11 Memorial Motor Cycle Ride before a luncheon in New York City. The ride is a tribute to the first responders and their efforts to save those injured or killed in the terrorist attack.
Firefighters were expected to march across the Brooklyn Bridge about 10 a.m., holding the 24 flags representing the Brooklyn Battalion 57 firefighters who died in the attacks.
Like it has each Sept. 11 evening since 2002, a “Tribute in Light” art installation that creates two vertical beams of blue light in lower Manhattan will be lit again Sunday night, beginning at Sunset and continuing until dawn Monday.