On Sunday, 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, Americans commemorated 9/11 with tearful tributes and calls to “never forget.”
Bonita Mentis wore a necklace of her murdered sister Shevonne Mentis as a constant reminder of the pain of her loss. It’s been 21 years, but it doesn’t feel like it to us. Before reading the names of World Trade Center victims to a crowd that included Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, she began, “It seems like only yesterday.” She addressed the audience, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, saying that no matter how much time has passed, nobody can truly understand what occurred.
Relatives and dignitaries also gathered at the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, the other two attack sites.
The death of thousands on that dreadful day
After more than two decades, September 11th remains a day of remembrance for the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, reshaped national security policy, and sparked a global “war on terror” by the United States. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key al Qaeda figure who helped plot the 9/11 attacks, was killed by a U.S. drone strike a little more than a month before Sunday’s commemorations.
When an American raid killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, Pierre Roldan, who also lost his cousin Carlos Lillo, a paramedic, said, “we had some form of justice.” Roldan stated, “Now that Al-Zawahiri is gone, at least we continue to receive justice.”
The long-delayed military trial for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind’s self-described attack, is still pending. This week, an attorney for one of Mohammed’s co-defendants stated ongoing negotiations toward a possible agreement to counter a trial and impose shorter but still lengthy sentences.
While subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and sparking discussion about how to strike a balance between safety and civil liberties, the September 11th attacks also temporarily sparked a sense of national pride and unity for many. The aftermath of 9/11 continues to influence American politics and public life in subtle and obvious ways.
Like other relatives of 9/11 victims, Jay Saloman fears that Americans’ awareness of the tragedy is waning. That day, our nation was the target of a terrorist attack. And theoretically, everyone should remember this and, you know, take precautions and be vigilant, said Saloman, whose brother was killed.
At Windows on the World, the eatery perched atop the trade center’s north tower, and more than 70 of Sekou Siby’s coworkers died. That morning, Siby, a staff member, was supposed to work until another cook asked him to switch shifts. The immigrant from Ivory Coast struggled to understand such horror in a nation where he had arrived in search of a better life. And he struggled to form friendships as close as the ones he’d had at Windows on the World. He had learned that it was too painful to become attached to people when he had no control over what would happen to them.
President Biden has vowed to remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism.
In commemorating the 21st anniversary of the September 11th attacks, U.S. Sunday, President Joe Biden attended a ceremony at the Pentagon.
The President stated, “I hope we remember that amid these dark days, we dug deep, cared for one another, and came together.”
“We will not rest. We will never forget. We will never give up,” President Biden declared, pledging to continue the fight against terrorism.
“Terror struck us on that brilliant blue morning, the air filled with smoke, and then the sirens and the stories, stories of those we lost, stories of incredible heroism from that terrible day,” he said. “What we will not change, what we cannot change, and what we will never change is the character of this nation, which terrorists believed they could damage.”
“We owe you,” the President said to the civilians and service members who responded swiftly to the attack on the Pentagon and the Americans who joined the armed forces in the wake of September 11th.
The President and others argued that there are better ways to combat it than long-term military deployments and war because the threat of terrorism has spread throughout the world over the past 21 years. Biden pledged to relentlessly work to prevent another attack against the United States.
On Sunday morning, first lady Jill Biden went to a ceremony in Pennsylvania, and vice president Kamala Harris went to one in New York City.