‘Don’t focus on hate’: World marks 20th anniversary of 9/11

National/World

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden lay a wreath at the Wall of Names during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. The Bidens visited to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

NEW YORK (AP) — The world solemnly marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, remembering the dead, invoking the heroes and taking stock of the aftermath just weeks after the bloody end of the Afghanistan war that was launched in response to the terror attacks.

Victims’ relatives and four U.S. presidents paid respects at the sites where hijacked planes killed nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil.

President Joe Biden made three Sept. 11 stops, one of them being to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, not long after Vice President Kamala Harris and former President George W. Bush spoke at a remembrance.

Biden placed a wreath at Memorial Plaza, home to the Wall of Names, where the names of the passengers and the crew from that flight are inscribed in marble.

The president and first lady Jill Biden then walked with relatives of the crash victims into the grassy field when the jet came to rest.

Biden made no public comments during his time at the memorial.

Biden arrived in Pennsylvania after joining former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and other dignitaries, as well as Sept. 11 victims’ family members, at Saturday’s World Trade Center ceremony of remembrance in New York City.

The New York ceremony concluded with taps after victims’ relatives read the names of nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the 2001 attacks.

Former President George W. Bush told people at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania that Americans learned much about themselves on Sept. 11.

“We learned that bravery is more common than we imagined, emerging with sudden splendor in the face of death,” Bush said Saturday at a ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

Bush, who was president during the attacks, commended the courage of the Flight 93 passengers and crew who are believed to have foiled an attack on the U.S. Capitol by leading the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania.

“The 33 passengers and seven crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all,” Bush said. “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people.”

He encouraged Americans to put aside their political differences in the spirit of what he saw after 9/11.

“So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment,” Bush said. “On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab their neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another.”

Vice President Kamala Harris began her remarks at the Flight 93 memorial with words for those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.

“So many in our nation — too many in our nation — have deeply felt the passage of time these past 20 years,” she said. “Please know your nation sees you and we stand with you and we support you.”

The victims and heroes of Flight 93 were commemorated at a ceremony at the site where the plane crashed in a field on Sept. 11, 2001.

President Joe Biden made an appearance, and Vice President Kamala Harris, former President George W. Bush and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also spoke.

Wolf said the passengers and crew of Flight 93, whose actions are believed to have led the hijackers to abandon their mission of targeting the U.S. Capitol, offered a lasting lesson of courage and hope.

“This story and this place remind us each day what it means to be an American,” said Wolf, a Democrat. “In times of strife, we Americans, we come together. We comfort each other. We protect each other and we stand up for each other. This memorial is a powerful reminder of what we have lost. But it’s also a powerful reminder of the strength of the American spirit.”

Larry Catuzzi, father of Flight 93 passenger Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, said in an interview that he talks to her every day.

“I say something that kind of reminds me of her, and I’ll talk to her. Or something good happens to me and I thank her for her being with me,” said Catuzzi, whose 38-year-old daughter was pregnant when she perished.

The family started a foundation in her name that has distributed college scholarships to more than 100 girls, funded three neonatal units and built a park in Houston memorializing the victims of Flight 93.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Arlington, Virginia that “we remember not just who our fallen teammates were, but the mission that they shared.”

Austin made the prepared remarks at a Pentagon ceremony Saturday.

He continued, “We recall their common commitment to defend our republic … and to squarely face new dangers.’’

Austin noted that “almost a quarter of the citizens who we defend today were born after 9/11,” including many of the 13 American service members killed in the recent attack in Afghanistan.

He says that “as the years march on, we must ensure that all our fellow Americans know and understand what happened here on 9/11 … and in Manhattan … and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.”

The Pentagon chief says that “it is our responsibility to remember. And it is our duty to defend our democracy.”

He says, “We cannot know what the next 20 years will bring. We cannot know what new dangers they will carry. … But we do know that America will always lead.”

And to the audience at the Pentagon commemoration, the defense secretary said, “We still work here. We still remember here. We still uphold our values here. With clear heads and fearless hearts.”

Bruce Springsteen performed at the World Trade Center memorial plaza in New York.

The audience of dignitaries and family members of people killed in the 2001 attacks applauded after Springsteen performed his song “I’ll See You In My Dreams” while accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica.

Victims’ relatives then resumed their reading of names of the fallen, a tradition since the first anniversary of the attacks that leveled the trade center’s twin towers.

The 9/11 anniversary commemoration at ground zero began with a tolling bell and a moment of silence, exactly 20 years after the start of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

President Joe Biden, former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, members of Congress, and other dignitaries joined a crowd of victims’ relatives Saturday on the Sept. 11 memorial plaza in New York. The memorial stands where the World Trade Center’s twin towers were rammed and felled by hijacked planes.

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