The United States of America marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which killed almost 3,000 people (photo, from tf1.fr). Ten years ago nineteen terrorists hijacked four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
There was a minute of silence of each moment that a plane struck – 08:46 and 09:03 in New York, 09:37 on the Pentagon and 10:-3 in Pennsylvania – and for when each of the WTC’s towers fell.
Security was tight during the ceremonies because last week the CIA received a warning that al-Qaeda might plan to bomb one of the cities. Officials said this warning was “credible but unconfirmed”.
Therefore in both New York and Washington police were stopping and searching large vehicles entering bridges and tunnels. Furthermore metal barriers were installed on roads near Ground Zero.
The New York ceremony opened to the sound of bagpipes and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang the national anthem. Later Paul Simon played The Sounds of Silence.
During the ceremony the names of the dead were read out by their loved ones.
President Barack Obama visited the three memorials to victims of the attacks. During his speech he quoted the Bible : “Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said that on 9/11 a “perfect blue sky” had turned into “the blackest of nights”.
“They were our neighbours, our friends, our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and parents,” he said of the victims.
“They each had a face, a story, a life cut short from under them,” he added. “As we listen, let us recall the words of Shakespeare: ‘Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end’.”
‘We will not stop’
This tenth anniversary also marks the opening of two memorial pools where the two World Trade Center buildings were located. The names of the people who died on that day are etched in bronze.
And behind the memorial there is the new building, a gleaming structure which is now three-quarters completed.
Former president George W. Bush joined him to visit the memorial at Ground Zero (photo, from francesoir.fr).
Then the Obamas went to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to lay a wreath of white flowers at a new marble memorial where the fourth place crashed because passengers fought back.
President Obama and his wife then travelled to the Pentagon to lay another wreath.
The US soldiers who had killed Osama bin Laden last May were praised earlier by vice-president Joe Biden. During a speech at the Pentagon he told a military audience that a “new generation of patriots” were galvanised by 9/11.
“We will not stop – you will not stop – until al-Qaeda is disrupted, dismantled and, ultimately, defeated.”
Less than a month after the 9/11 attacks US forces were sent to Afghanistan in order to remove the Taliban, who had given asylum to al-Qaeda, from power.
US bases in Bagram and Wardak were attacked by insurgents during the night. According to officials two Afghan civilians were killed and 80 US troops injured.
More than 6,200 members of the US military were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past ten years.