Saturday, September 18

Amid a Painful Year, the U.S. Remembers the Deadliest Attack in Its History

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:32 p.m. ET

Jose Santiago, left, developed a ramge of illnesses after reporting at the scene. Mary Montgomery’s husband, who worked at ground zero, died of esophageal cancer.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center has been remembered for the 2,753 lives lost in New York that horrific morning.

But that toll has very likely been eclipsed by deaths from exposure to toxic pollutants in the air in the weeks and months after the collapse — and that number keeps growing.

After the twin towers fell, the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and others who selflessly rushed to the scene were hailed as heroes. But over the years, health problems, like cancer, respiratory illnesses and other ailments, remained and have continued to emerge.

By some estimates, more than 400,000 people in Lower Manhattan, including those who lived, worked and studied there, were exposed to toxic material from the pulverized towers, leading to health issues that were diagnosed many years later.

Of the 111,005 ground zero responders and survivors enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, 4,610 have died, according to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some health officials believe many died from Sept. 11-related illnesses — and that the toll is in fact higher, given the likelihood that many people have died who were not enrolled in the program and did not know their illness was Sept. 11-related.

Barbara Burnette, 58, of Bayside, Queens, was a New York City police detective who helped for several weeks with recovery efforts in the smoldering debris of the collapsed towers. Several years later, she could not walk up a flight of stairs because of the lung disease that was diagnosed in 2004. Then came lung cancer in 2017. She now uses a wheelchair and oxygen.

“We didn’t even think about masks at the time,” she said. “We were working so much that it didn’t cross our minds we could get sick. What makes it so sad is, we would do it all again.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:17 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:17 p.m. ET

Gordon Felt, second left, brother of Edward Porter Felt and the president of Families for Flight 93, with President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, at the Wall of Names in Shanksville, Pa., on Saturday.
Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Edward Porter Felt was among the 40 passengers and crew members killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a grassy Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11. On Saturday, his brother urged a solemn crowd to honor all their memories by living with valor.

“Were we worthy of their sacrifice?” Gordon Felt asked those assembled at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. “Do we share the same willingness to sacrifice for others?”

Mr. Felt, the president of Families for Flight 93, reminded those assembled of the courage of those on the flight who attempted to seize control of the jet from the hijackers before it ultimately crashed to the ground, killing everyone on board but keeping the plane from its intended target.

Mr. Felt spoke to a crowd of nearly 500 assembled in a sunny clearing. A marble wall and walkway separated the field from the crash site; engraved in several places were the words: “A common field one day. A field of honor forever.”

Those gathered in Shanksville on Saturday included the crew of the Navy’s U.S.S. Somerset, which was named for Somerset County, Pa., in honor of Flight 93’s final resting place, and family members and friends of the deceased.

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:17 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:17 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Biden again looks forward in Shanksville, addressing a topic that seems to take up a great deal of his attention. He speaks often about the existential battle he feels is happening in America, and the choice he feels we have to choose democracy over the influence of authoritarianism. “Are we going to — in the next four, five, six, 10 years — demonstrate that democracies can work, or not?” he asked reporters.

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:14 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:14 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Biden spoke to reporters in Shanksville for several minutes. He praised the Flight 93 passengers and crew. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I know I should step up.’ It’s another thing to do it. That’s genuine heroism.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:14 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:14 p.m. ET

Former President Donald J. Trump did not appear at 9/11 memorial events.
Credit…Cooper Neill for The New York Times

Notably absent from the 9/11 memorial ceremonies on Saturday was former President Donald J. Trump, a native New Yorker who built much of his political brand in the divisive aftermath of the attacks. Mr. Trump was in New York City, his spokeswoman said, but was not planning to visit ground zero.

“He had the option to attend but decided to honor the day with different stops,” his spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, said.

President Biden, former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton all attended the main ceremony in Lower Manhattan. Former President George W. Bush spoke at a memorial near Shanksville, Pa., where Mr. Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony.

But instead of appearing at the somber name-reading ceremony, Mr. Trump released a series of aggressive statements that criticized Mr. Biden’s handling of the troop pullout in Afghanistan and praised his allies, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer and the mayor of New York on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Trump called Mr. Giuliani, who attended the ceremony, “the greatest mayor in the history of New York City.”

Lee Cochran, a spokeswoman for the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, confirmed that Mr. Trump had been given the same information about the ceremony as the other current and former presidents who did attend.

“You would have to ask Trump’s team about their decision, but he did not attend today’s commemoration,” Ms. Cochran said.

Mr. Trump spoke at the Police Department’s 17th Precinct station house in East Midtown on Saturday, near Trump Tower, where he delivered campaign-style remarks and criticized Mr. Biden’s handling of the pullout from Afghanistan. He was also expected to virtually address Let Us Worship, an evangelical event at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., around 6:50 p.m., Ms. Harrington said. And he was set to provide commentary for a pay-per-view boxing match in Hollywood, Fla.

“I love great fighters and great fights,” Mr. Trump said in a news release for the event. “I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside.”

Mr. Trump has claimed that he spent extensive time with emergency workers in the aftermath of the attacks, but the workers have said that claim is exaggerated.

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:09 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:09 p.m. ET

on photographing the events of 9/11

In the weeks following Sept. 11, I was assigned to photograph the aftermath. As I was driving, I saw a fire truck with blown-out windows, no longer red but covered in white ash and debris. It had been towed back to the firehouse, Engine 226. When I glanced to my right, I saw an emotional moment unfolding, and I quietly took two pictures. Lt. Matt Nelson, left, reacts, as Tom Casatelli, the truck’s sole survivor of that day, embraces the son of his fallen comrade Lt. Bob Wallace. It is a moment that still haunts me.

Credit…Nancy Siesel/The New York Times

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:02 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 2:02 p.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

It almost feels like a musical coda to the memorial today, as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police department’s pipe and drum band marches down Church Street past the Freedom Tower at ground zero.

Credit…Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:45 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:45 p.m. ET

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida spoke at a Sept. 11 memorial in the Tampa suburb of Palm Harbor.
Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

At an otherwise somber commemoration near Tampa, Fla., Gov. Ron DeSantis drew enthusiastic applause from a crowd of nearly 500 as he spoke about the lives lost and the global aftershocks of Sept. 11.

“We can’t let it happen again, but we definitely have sent a message that America will respond,” Mr. DeSantis said at a Sept. 11 memorial in the Curlew Hills cemetery in Palm Harbor. “We were united after 9/11. It would sure be nice if we could have some of that unity in our country right now.”

The ceremony drew older residents as well as children wearing commemorative shirts and stickers marking the terror attack of 2001, long before they were born.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Two former New Yorkers in the audience who have relocated to Florida, Loretta Grande, 60, and Kristen DeRose, 48, remarked on how differently the anniversary is remembered in the two states.

“Here in Florida, it’s like it was never real,” Ms. Grande said. “That’s heartbreaking for us, because we know it was real. We’ve seen the devastation of the aftermath of it.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:36 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:36 p.m. ET

on photographing the events of 9/11

What sticks with me is not the fire, not the crushed gray concrete of the Pentagon, but the sensation of the cool fall air and the unrelenting blue sky. Pieces of green jet structure were underfoot. I had only moments to shoot before rescue teams and others dominated the scene. I knew that space well. It was on my way home from the bureau every day. I had met two of the people on that plane. By the time fighter jets passed overhead — as if in silent, angered tribute — I knew American life would never be the same.

Credit…Paul Hosefros/The New York Times

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:33 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:33 p.m. ET

A Taliban fighter stands guard while women, many wearing burqas, march in support of the Taliban in Kabul on Saturday.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Hundreds of women, many wearing full-length burqas, their faces veiled, filled the auditorium of a Kabul university on Saturday holding signs in support of the Taliban and its strict interpretation of Islam, including separate education for men and women.

The Taliban said the demonstration at Shaheed Rabbani Education University, which followed anti-Taliban protests last week by Afghan women demanding equal rights, was organized by female university lecturers and students. Many of the signs held aloft were in English.

Reporters on the street near Saturday’s march were kept away from the women by Taliban fighters armed with automatic rifles and were not allowed to speak with any of them. Later attempts to reach the participants through social media or the university went unanswered.

Held on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the demonstration served as a stark reminder of how the women of Afghanistan could be thrown back to an earlier era following last month’s Taliban takeover and departure of American troops from the county.

Since the United States and its allies departed Kabul on Aug. 30, leaving Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban, the country’s women have been at the forefront of protests demanding that their rights continue to be respected.

Taliban leaders have responded to those protests with violence, beating participants, including women, and insisting that anyone taking to the streets for a public demonstration must first be granted approval from their caretaker government.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:28 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:28 p.m. ET

Bridget Gormley, bottom left, and her brothers, Billy, Kevin and Ray Gormley, lost their father, William J. Gormley, to lung cancer in 2017 at age 53. He had responded to Sept. 11 as a New York City firefighter, helping in recovery efforts at ground zero for weeks.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

A week after nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was created to benefit children of the victims.

It became the largest scholarship for children whose parents had died or had been permanently disabled from the attacks. With former President Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, the former senator, serving as co-founders, the fund raised more than $100 million. To date, the fund has amassed roughly $180 million for roughly 3,800 students, its officials said.

But over the years, another wave of victims has emerged: emergency workers who were stricken with 9/11-related illnesses from being exposed to toxins near ground zero in the aftermath of the attacks.

“Tragically, the number of children who lost parents because of 9/11 continues to grow as more and more first-responders lose their lives due to illnesses caused by breathing toxic air during the rescue efforts,” Mr. Clinton said in recorded remarks.

Now the fund is being expanded to assist their children, with the launch last week of a campaign to raise an extra $25 million in academic assistance, largely for students whose parents have died because of exposures during recovery efforts.

Large donors include the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and Medal Dash, which raised $115,000 from a run with more than 8,000 participants, fund officials said.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:24 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:24 p.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

It took Paulie Veneto 19 days to arrive at ground zero today. He pushed a flight attendant cart from Boston to raise awareness for the flight crews that died on 9/11. He calls them “the first first responders.” “Once the towers came down, everyone forgot them,” he said.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:22 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:22 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

The president has just made a stop at the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ET

Alison Malachowski visited her son’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

On Saturday morning, Alison Malachowski sat in the grass before a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. She poured two shots of bourbon, one for herself and one for her son, Marine Staff Sgt. James Malachowski, and she began to cry.

Sergeant Malachowski died during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

The 9/11 attacks had changed many young people’s lives, she said, and her son wanted to protect his country. So in 2003, he joined the Marines, who sent him to Iraq, then Afghanistan.

Ms. Malachowski, 65, said she was scared at first, but also proud of her son.

She showed a photo of her son in Afghanistan, standing with children. Everyone was smiling. It was taken not long before her son’s death, from an explosive device. “Everybody came back from the explosion, but why didn’t my Jimmy?” she asked.

She said that many parents had experienced terrible pain, and questioned the need for so much loss.

Then Ms. Malachowski pulled out small American flags and placed them near other graves — the graves of the children of other families she has met over the years.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:14 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:14 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Contrary to news reports, former President Donald J. Trump is not expected to be at ground zero on Saturday. “He had the option to attend but decided to honor the day with different stops,” his spokeswoman Liz Harrington said, in response to a question about whether he had been invited to today’s memorial events. She said that Trump is in New York City, and he is expected to virtually address Let Us Worship, an evangelical event being held on the National Mall, around 6:50 p.m.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:10 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:10 p.m. ET

The names of the nearly 3,000 lives lost in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were read out loud by family members at a ceremony in Lower Manhattan.

It took about four hours.

The ceremony honored and remembered the 2,983 people killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, aboard Flight 93 and in the Feb. 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Their names are etched in bronze above pools at the 9/11 Memorial.

The ceremony is an annual tradition that was altered because of the coronavirus pandemic last year, when prerecorded audio of the names was played. The event held on Saturday more closely resembled those of years past.

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET

Draped between two fire engines and nestled in front of the State Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., a large American flag flapped in the wind. There, children, veterans and service members adorned in red, white and blue gathered to pay tribute to emergency workers who died in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Life is split into life before 9/11 and after 9/11,” Leirion Gaylor Baird, the mayor of Lincoln, told a crowd of over 100.

After a 21-gun salute and speeches from Gov. Pete Ricketts and Lincoln’s fire chief, David Engler, the audience applauded as the 61 members of Nebraska Task Force One, a search and rescue team that was deployed to New York in 2001, were honored. Some task force members rose as their names were called.

As families filed out after the ceremony, a young boy reached out to a police officer, who gave him a a high-five.

Two miles away, at the Veteran’s Memorial Garden, Battalion Chief Mark Majors of Lincoln’s Fire and Rescue Department, who was at the World Trade Center after 9/11, said the day served as “an opportunity to educate and explain to an entire generation the promise that so many made 20 years ago.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

Many onlookers today at ground zero seem to want to do something to engage with the events of the day. One popular way has been tying remembrance ribbons given out by St. Paul’s Chapel onto the iron fence around its old cemetery

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:55 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:55 p.m. ET

reporting from New York

The reading of the names of victims in Lower Manhattan has ended.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:51 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:51 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

The president has also been pressured by families of Sept. 11 victims to release more information on the origin of the attacks. This month, Biden made good on a campaign promise to disclose long-classified documents that families of the victims think could detail connections between the government of Saudi Arabia and the hijackers.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:49 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:49 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

As president, Biden is struggling to move on from the far-reaching aftermath of the attacks. The violent end of the American war in Afghanistan has made it difficult for him to pivot to a foreign policy doctrine that would better position the country to fight what he feels are more pressing existential challenges: combating climate change, preparing for future pandemics and keeping pace with China.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Instead, Biden, then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, went outside. “People were walking up to him,” Aitken recalled. “He was literally stopping people on the street who looked upset and giving that message: ‘We’re going to be okay. We’re going to be all right.'”

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Margaret Aitken, who was press secretary for Biden when he was a senator, described what Sept. 11 was like for him on the day of the attacks. In an interview, Aitken said that Biden was on a train on his way to Washington from Delaware when the planes hit the towers. When he arrived in Washington, she said, she met him on the steps to the Capitol. “There was chaos in the streets,” she recalled. Biden, she said, fought to get onto the Senate floor to address the public, but the chamber had been locked down.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET

reporting from New York

President Biden was also at the Flight 93 memorial last year, where he laid a wreath of white flowers and spoke with the family members of some of those who died.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

The Bidens, walking hand in hand, walked out into a field near the memorial. The president patted one of the officials next to him on the back.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:30 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:30 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

President Biden and the first lady just joined a wreath-laying ceremony at the Flight 93 memorial.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:29 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:29 p.m. ET

The metallic clacking of hammers echoed through Riverside Park on Saturday morning as members of the New York Fire Department installed flagpoles in front of the Firemen’s Memorial on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The 343 American flags lining the hill commemorated the members of the FDNY who lost their lives 20 years ago.

One of the men tirelessly hammering flagpoles into the ground was Tim Klett, 58, who retired in March after serving as a lieutenant at Engine 88 in the Bronx.

“This is the only place I come,” he said. “There’s no speeches. There’s no politics involved. We read the names, we honor the fallen. It’s a simple tribute, which I like.”

He was one of the hundreds of firefighters, from New York and beyond, who crowded along Riverside Drive on Saturday to pay tribute to the colleagues and friends lost on 9/11.

“We lost a couple of guys there, good guys. You think about them often,” said Derek Harkin, 55, a battalion chief in Brooklyn and 27-year veteran of the Fire Department. “It seems like yesterday, but it feels like a long time ago.”

Not everyone in the crowd was a firefighter. Candy Dato, 73, wiped tears from her eyes as she remembered her experiences on 9/11, down to the shade of the sky.

“I, for whatever reason, have a vivid memory: it was such a bright, beautiful blue,” said the retired nurse. “No one’s forgotten.”

Hundreds of firefighters from across the country mingled in front of the memorial, greeting each other with laughs and hugs that punctuated the solemnity of the occasion. They came from Miami, Oakland, Chicago, and as far away as France. But as soon as the ceremony started, they all lined up in perfect unison, shoulder to shoulder, united by their uniforms.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:29 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:29 p.m. ET

The observances will continue at halftime, when Ohio State’s marching band is scheduled to perform a patriotic tribute while swirling through a half dozen special formations, including an American flag, the Statue of Liberty and a bald eagle.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:28 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:28 p.m. ET

Minutes before kickoff in Columbus, a stealth bomber glided above a densely packed Ohio Stadium. Video boards carried a tribute, and even the coin used for the pregame toss was designed especially for a game on Sept. 11.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET

One of Saturday’s marquee college football games, with the University of Oregon visiting Ohio State University here in Columbus, includes commemorations of Sept. 11.

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:20 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:20 p.m. ET

on photographing the events of 9/11

My assignment was a funeral in Yonkers, for an emergency medical worker killed in the attack. The international press was there, too, but after the burial they packed up their gear and left. I stayed for a tribute that included a salute and music from a boom box. I shot three frames in the rain, at the end of a roll, when Jay Robbins teared up. I’ll never forget how it happened right when the music started playing. It’s been difficult to look at this photograph. It still breaks my heart.

Credit…George Gutierrez for The New York Times

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:03 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:03 p.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

Randy Moore, 56, and John Fackre, 76, are U.S. Army veterans at ground zero today. “The horror here in 2001 was worse than anything I saw in Vietnam,” said Mr. Fackre. Remembering the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he added, “Bush did the right thing, but it dragged on for too long.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:03 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:03 p.m. ET

Video

transcript

transcript

‘Unity Is Imperative in America,’ Harris Says at 9/11 Ceremony

Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the importance of unity in America during a memorial service near Shanksville, Pa., for the victims of Flight 93 who were killed 20 years ago.

What happened on Flight 93 told us then, and it still tells us so much, about the courage of those onboard who gave everything they possibly could, about the resolve of the first responders who risked everything, and about the resilience of the American people. On the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, we were all reminded that unity is possible in America. We were reminded also that unity is imperative in America. It is essential to our shared prosperity, to our national security, and to our standing in the world.

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Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the importance of unity in America during a memorial service near Shanksville, Pa., for the victims of Flight 93 who were killed 20 years ago.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

At a memorial for the passengers who fought back against terrorists aboard United Airlines Flight 93, Vice President Kamala Harris warned that the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks had shown how “fear can be used to sow division,” and stressed that America’s diversity was its greatest asset.

“If we do the hard work of working together as Americans, if we remain united in purpose,” Ms. Harris said while speaking at a memorial service near Shanksville, Pa., “we will be prepared for whatever comes next.”

The Biden administration has used the solemnity of the day to plead for Americans to view what happened on Sept. 11 as a useful lesson for the current political and cultural divisions wrought, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic. Ms. Harris, memorializing the 40 passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93 who fought back against hijackers, encouraged Americans to remember their sacrifice.

“On this 20th anniversary, on this solemn day of remembrance, we must challenge ourselves to, yes, look back. For the sake of our children. For the sake of their children,” Ms. Harris said. “And for that reason, we must also look forward. We must also look toward the future. Because in the end, that is what the 40 were fighting for: Their future. And ours.”

“On the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, we were all reminded that unity is possible in America. We were reminded, too, that unity is imperative in America. It is essential to our shared prosperity, our national security, and to our standing in the world.”

The vice president took the stage after former President George W. Bush; Deb Haaland, the secretary of the interior; and Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania delivered their own remarks. Mr. Bush, too, stressed the importance of Americans coming together.

“On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another,” Mr. Bush said. “That is the America I know.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:00 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 12:00 p.m. ET

reporting from Washington

In his remarks at the Flight 93 ceremony, Bush compared domestic extremists in the United States to the Sept. 11 hijackers, calling them “children of the same foul spirit” and adding, “It is our duty to confront them.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET

reporting from Washington

The Bidens have arrived in Pennsylvania to lay a wreath at the memorial site.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:44 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:44 a.m. ET

on photographing the events of 9/11

This photograph of Michele Defazio remains, for me, a reminder of the kindness of strangers. I think of her every Sept. 11. I watched Michele walk alone toward the Bowery, where a missing persons reporting station had been set up. Carrying her homemade fliers with her husband’s photograph, her grief and worry overwhelmed her, and she paused for the briefest of moments. Strangers on the street also paused to comfort her. In the days following the attack, we would learn that 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees — including Michele’s husband, Jason — died in the attack. I later covered their memorial service, crying while making photographs.

Credit…Krista Niles/The New York Times

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:38 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:38 a.m. ET

Participants at the Chicago event each wore a badge with the name and photo of an emergency worker who died in the attacks.
Credit…Robert Chiarito

More than 500 people, many of them firefighters in full uniforms, climbed 2,200 steps at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday to remember the victims of Sept. 11.

“I’m just paying respect to all the lives that died that day,” said German Moreno, a Chicago firefighter. Mr. Moreno, 38, said he was drawn to the profession, in part, by the heroism of emergency workers who died on 9/11. Mr. Moreno climbed the steps in full gear on Saturday morning.

The event in Chicago was one of 40 stair climbs around the country. Participants climbed or walked the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center, each wearing a badge with the name and photo of one of the emergency workers who died in the attacks.

Many firefighters from the Chicago area took part.

Omar Juarez, 23 and a firefighter from Westmont, Ill., was too young to remember 9/11, but he said the events resonated with him nonetheless.

“It could happen to any one of us. It makes you realize how fragile life is,” Mr. Juarez said.

Marisa Price, a 25-year-old firefighter from Westmont, said she found herself thinking about what must have been going through the minds of New York firefighters as they worked to rescue people that day.

“I’ll be thinking of them waking up and going to work like a normal day and then having to face the horrors of what happened, having to walk up those towers,” she said. “A lot of them were my age at the time and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

A dozen 911 dispatchers from Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management also took part in the memorial climb on Saturday.

Brenda Holifield, a dispatcher, said she was on the job 20 years ago, and often thinks of dispatchers who took calls that day.

“I can feel how they felt,” said Ms. Holifield, 47. “Your heart goes out because they must have felt helpless but stayed calm and did their job.”

Before the climb began, members of the Chicago Fire Department presented the colors, bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” and Talia Martino, a 17-year-old senior from James B. Conant High School in suburban Hoffman Estates, sang the national anthem.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:33 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:33 a.m. ET

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CreditCredit…Greg Kahn for The New York Times

Thousands of veterans who served in the wars that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks struggle with issues that are often invisible to those around them. Some are suffering from health problems and trauma, and others from feelings of displacement and alienation, which for many grew more intense as the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last month and the Taliban regained control of the country.

“It is one of those things you have to leave in God’s hands,” Jen Burch said of her health issues. “To someone looking at me, I look like a very healthy 34-year-old woman, and I am not.”

Once an active runner, she developed breathing problems after she was exposed to toxic burn pits in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Watching Kandahar, where she had tried to make a difference, and then the entire country quickly fall to the Taliban exacerbated her pain.

“It all feels like a complete failure,” she said from her home in Washington, D.C. “I have my own demons from my time there, and I worry about other veterans and the defeat they must be feeling.”

Some veterans are wondering if the wars were worth it, said Bonnie Carroll, the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a support organization for those grieving the death of a service member.

“In World War I and World War II, if you died, you most likely died on the battlefield,” she said. “But many of our loved ones are now bringing the war home with them and dying from suicide as a result of post-traumatic stress or illness as a result of exposures.”

U.S. officials estimate that more than 3.5 million service members who deployed were exposed to toxic smoke from the roughly 250 pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Biden has said that he believes toxic substances from burn pits contributed to the brain cancer of his son Beau, who served with the Delaware Army National Guard at Balad Air Base in Iraq and died of the illness in 2015.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:30 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:30 a.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

Also at ground zero, hymns by the Pioneer Valley Mennonite Fellowship choir from Western Massachusetts.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:28 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:28 a.m. ET

reporting from New York

It is nearly three hours into the reciting of the names in New York. The surnames are a snapshot of the nation itself: McSweeney, McWilliams, Medaglia, Medina, Mehta, Meisenheimer, Mejia, Melaku.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:24 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:24 a.m. ET

reporting from New York

Former President George W. Bush also made an appeal to unity, saying that the country banded together in the immediate period after the attacks in days that “seem distant from our own.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:24 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:24 a.m. ET

reporting from New York

Still, Bush’s remarks may have given a somewhat idealistic view of the country. For example, he said that Americans rejected prejudice and nativism, but many Muslim Americans have described experiencing a wave of anti-Muslim hate after 9/11.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:14 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:14 a.m. ET

reporting from Washington

From all of the messaging we’ve seen today from the White House, it is clear that the Biden administration is using this rare moment of collective solemnity as a way to remind Americans that there is strength in diversity and in unity.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ET

reporting from ground zero

The crowd around the perimeter of ground zero has begun to thin out, but some have remained behind, including people saying prayers in the nearby cemetery of Saint Paul’s Chapel.

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:10 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:10 a.m. ET

reporting from Washington

“What happened on Flight 93 told us then, and it still tells us so much, about the courage of those on board,” Harris said about the passengers who overtook hijackers. “We must challenge ourselves, yes, to look back. To remember. For the sake of our children, for the sake of their children.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:08 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:08 a.m. ET

Video

transcript

transcript

George W. Bush Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Sept. 11

Former President George W. Bush spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, recalling the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and paying tribute to the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed in the Flight 93 hijacking.

For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced. There was horror at the scale — there was horror at the scale of destruction and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. And the sacrifice of the first responders in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people. And we were proud of our wounded nation. In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own. Malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together. I come without explanations or solutions. I can only tell you what I’ve seen. On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.

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Former President George W. Bush spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, recalling the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and paying tribute to the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed in the Flight 93 hijacking.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Former President George W. Bush commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Saturday at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, recalling a time of American unity and drawing a sharp contrast with the present-day divisiveness of the country’s politics.

Mr. Bush, who was joined by the former first lady, Laura Bush, was in his first year as president when the attacks took place.

“For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced,” Mr. Bush said at a ceremony held at the memorial. “There was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it.”

He added that “the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people, and we were proud of our wounded nation.”

Recalling how the American people responded to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush painted a starkly different picture compared with the embittered politics of the present day.

“In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people,” he said, though many Muslim Americans reported facing heightened discrimination in the wake of the attacks. “When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own.”

He continued: “Malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”

“I come without explanations or solutions,” Mr. Bush added. “I can only tell you what I’ve seen. On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.”

Eight months after the Capitol was stormed by supporters of President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Bush warned against domestic extremism, saying that “the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within.”

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” he continued. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

In his remarks, Mr. Bush paid tribute to the passengers and crew members of Flight 93, which crashed in a field after those on board fought back against the hijackers and diverted them from their intended target. “Many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field,” he said.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush led the nation into the war in Afghanistan and, later, the war in Iraq. Speaking less than two weeks after the last American troops left Afghanistan, he acknowledged in his remarks that military actions over the past two decades “have led to debate.”

He offered a message for veterans, saying they had been “a force for good in the world” and adding, “Nothing that has followed, nothing, can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:07 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 11:07 a.m. ET

reporting from Washington

Kamala Harris, the vice president, just took the stage in Pennsylvania. “We stand today with all of those who lost someone on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of the attacks. So many in our nation — too many in our nation — have deeply felt the passage of time these last 20 years.”

Sept. 11, 2021, 10:50 a.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 10:50 a.m. ET

As the United States marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, memorials have been held around the world, and tributes have been paid by global leaders, in memory of the victims, survivors and families affected.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the victims of the attacks in a video address played at a memorial event at the Olympic Park in East London.

Mr. Johnson said that while the threat from terrorists remained, the last 20 years had shown that “they failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy; they failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear.”

In a message to President Biden, Queen Elizabeth II said, “my thoughts and prayers — and those of my family and the entire nation — remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty.”

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, who was in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, described it as a “day I’ll never forget.”

In a statement, Ms. Ardern said: “I saw first hand the shock and fear that goes hand in hand with terrorism.”

Many world leaders took to Twitter to commemorate the attacks, including the prime ministers of Ireland, Greece and Canada — Micheál Martin, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Justin Trudeau — and the presidents of France and South Korea, Emmanuel Macron and Moon Jae-in.

“20 years have passed, but the shock of that day still remains as deep wounds in the hearts of so many,” Mr. Moon said.

In Madrid, staff from the U.S. embassy placed a floral wreath at a memorial in Juan Carlos I Park. From the compound of the U.S. embassy, two giant light beams pierced the night on Friday, shining up into the sky to represent the twin towers.

Flags flew at half-staff outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general and Douglas D. Jones, the U.S. chargé d’affaires, held a moment of silence at the Sept. 11 memorial — a piece of twisted metal from the World Trade Center — at the precise minute that the first plane struck the North Tower of the complex.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India described the 9/11 attack as an “attack on humanity.”

Raphael Minder contributed reporting from Madrid.

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