21 years after 9/11 Terrorist attack kills nearly 3,000 Americansthe wounds of this massacre are still fresh for Bonita Mentis.
His sister, Shevonne Mentis, 25, was working at a World Trade Center finance company when two of the four planes were forcibly commandeered and crashed into the Twin Towers that morning. At a memorial service in New York on Sunday, Bonita Mentis, who read the list of victims, said she still had the shoes her sister was looking for before going to work the morning she died.
“The day I was born, I became your sister. The day you died, you became my guardian angel,” Mantis said. “We love you, we miss you and we will never forget you.”
The ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum was one of many across the country to commemorate the attack that shocked the world. President Biden lays a wreath at the Pentagon First Lady Jill Biden speaks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Events at the three locations where the strike occurred included readings of the names of those who died.
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Other communities across the country hold candlelight vigils, interfaith services and other celebrations. Some Americans join volunteer programs on federally designated days like Patriots Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Addressing a mournful crowd in the rain outside the Pentagon, President Joe Biden pledged to continue to fight terrorism and called on Americans to stand up for democracy.
“America itself changed that day,” Biden said. “But what we will not change, and will never change, is the character of this country that the terrorists think they can harm.”
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In Shanksville, the names of passengers and crew were read as memorial bells rang as Flight 93 crashed. The plane crashed after passengers and crew tried to rush into the cockpit.
Jill Biden said: “As we stand on this hallowed and bruised ground, recording our collective grief and honoring the memory of each day, this is a legacy we carry vigorously: the hope of triumphing over hate.”
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff attended the event in New York, but by tradition no politicians spoke at the Ground Zero ceremony. Family members of the victims read back the name of the deceased.
A six-minute silence was observed during the ceremony to commemorate when each of the World Trade Center towers were hit, when they collapsed, when a plane slammed into the Pentagon, and when Flight 93 d ‘United Airlines crashed in Pennsylvania.
The eponymous nephew of firefighter Jimmy Riches was not born when his uncle died in the tower, but young Riches took to the podium to pay his respects.
“You are always in my heart. I know you are watching me,” he said.
Museum administrator Antura Kazimatis, 50, lost his 31-year-old brother John Kazimatis in the attack. She worries that despite the “never forget” mantra, people are losing interest.
“The longer it goes on, the easier it is for people to forget about it or put it on the back burner,” she told The New York Times. The aim of the annual commemoration is to educate the younger generation so they can avoid similar tragedies, she said.
The attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda co-conspirators who hijacked two passenger planes from Boston, one from Newark, New Jersey, and one from outside Washington. They weaponized their planes, two hit and destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, one hit the Pentagon and one probably flew towards the United States Capitol, hitting the Shanksville oil field.
The deadly morning sparked a “global war on terror”, highlighted by the 20-year battle in Afghanistan and the 2011 killing of Islamist militant group founder Osama bin Laden. A month ago, a US drone strike killed another key al-Qaeda figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, who had been involved in planning the September 11 attacks. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attack, has been detained pending a long-delayed military tribunal.
“America’s resolve to maintain national security will never relinquish,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the Pentagon memorial. “We will always remember that we will always protect this democracy. We will always seek to be worthy of those we have lost.
Contributed by: Associated Press