News

America Remembers 9/11

Ceremonies honor the thousands of lives lost 15 years ago

September 12, 2016
ALBIN LOHR-JONES—PACIFIC PRESS/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES

Flowers adorn the names of 9/11 victims at the September 11 Memorial in New York City, on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. 

Americans gathered on Sunday to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists hijacked four airplanes. Two of the planes toppled the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. One airplane destroyed a section of the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C. The fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

People gather at the September 11 Memorial in New York City as the “Tribute in Light” art piece illuminates the night sky

DREW ANGERER—GETTY IMAGES
People gather at the September 11 Memorial in New York City as the “Tribute in Light” art piece illuminates the night sky

Each year since the attacks, families and friends of the victims have assembled for memorial services at the sites. People around the nation, including those attending major sporting events, have paused to observe moments of silence to mark the anniversary.

A Day of Remembrance

This year, the ceremony in New York City stuck close to tradition. Moments of silence were held and bells tolled to indicate the moments when the planes hit the towers and the skyscrapers fell. There was a nearly four-hour recitation of the names of the people who were killed at the World Trade Center. But organizers also planned for additional music and readings for the milestone year. An estimated 8,000 people attended the service.

“It doesn’t get any easier. The grief never goes away. You don’t move forward—it just always stays with you,” said Tom Acquaviva, of Wayne, New Jersey, who lost his son, Paul.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suspended their campaigns for the day to attend Sunday’s ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. The candidates greeted supporters and joined the families of the victims, city officials, and first responders, but they did not make public speeches. About 90 minutes into the ceremony, Clinton left after feeling unwell. It was later reported that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.

President Barack Obama participates in a moment of silence in front of the Pentagon during a memorial service.

GETTY IMAGES
President Barack Obama participates in a moment of silence in front of the Pentagon during a memorial service.

Just after sunset on Sunday evening, the public art piece “Tribute in Light” lit up the New York sky, with two high-powered beams of blue light representing the twin towers.

About 1,000 people attended a name-reading ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

A Call for Unity

During a ceremony at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama spoke to hundreds of service members and relatives of the victims of the attack on the Defense Department’s headquarters. The president called on Americans to embrace the nation’s character as a people made up of every religion and cultural background. He said that extremist groups, such as the one that carried out the attacks, would never be able to defeat the United States. “We know that our diversity, our patchwork heritage is not a weakness, it is still and always will be one of our greatest strengths,” Obama said. “This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.”

Joseph Quinn, who lost his brother Jimmy on 9/11, served in the military in Iraq. He appealed to Americans to regain the sense of unity that people felt after the 9/11 attacks. “I know, in our current political environment, it may feel we’re divided. Don’t believe it,” he said. “Engage with your community…. Be the connection we all desperately need.”


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