NEW YORK/WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said today that the September 11 victims would be remembered “no matter how many years pass” as Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people were killed by airliners hijacked by Islamist militants.
Two of the passenger jets brought down the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, another hit the Pentagon outside Washington and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when passengers aboard that flight fought back against the hijackers.
Obama, speaking at the Pentagon where 184 people were killed, told victims’ families that the whole country shares their loss.
“Eleven times we have paused in remembrance and reflection, in unity and in purpose,” Obama said. “This is never an easy day, but it is especially difficult for all of you, the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives.”
“But no matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this: That you will never be alone, your loved ones will never be forgotten. They will endure in the hearts of our nation because through their sacrifice they helped us make the America we are today, an America that has emerged even stronger.”
Speaking under clear blue skies that recalled the crisp morning of September 11, 2001, Obama said America’s fight is not with Islam but with al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks, and its allies.
This is a line he has used several times since taking office promising to mend ties with the Muslim world.
“I’ve always said our fight is with al Qaeda and its affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion,” he said. “This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.”
At Ground Zero in New York where the towers once stood, the annual reading of the list of 2,983 people killed at the three sites began at 8:39 a.m. (1239 GMT).
The first names were read by Patricia Abbott, wife of Alan Jay Richman, who died at the trade center, and by Allison Adams, wife of Patrick Adams, who also died in the trade centre’s collapse. It will take 198 people more than three hours to read the list alphabetically.
The list excludes the 19 hijackers, who died carrying out the attacks.
Moments of silence were observed at 8:46 a.m. (1246 GMT), 9:03 a.m., 9:37 a.m. and 10:03 a.m., the times of impact for the four planes, and again at 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m., the times that the north tower and then the south tower fell. (Reuters)