Washington, Sep 11 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Sunday recalled the words of the late Queen Elizabeth II of England after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US in his speech on the 21st anniversary of those sad and traumatic events.
“Grief is the price we pay for love” was the message that the British monarch, who died on Aug. 8 at age 96, sent to the families of the victims during a religious service at New York City’s St. Thomas Church on the very day of the attacks.
Biden repeated the queen’s phrase in recalling the 2,763 people who lost their lives 21 years ago when a group of Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets and flew three of them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, while the fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field, apparently as passengers were staging an uprising on board trying to wrest control of the aircraft from the hijackers.
“What was destroyed, we have repaired. What was threatened, we fortified. What was attacked – the indomitable spirit – has never, ever wavered,” said the president during his speech in front of the Defense Department headquarters in recalling the 189 people who died in the attack on the Pentagon.
The president also emphasized the killing in Kabul by a US drone in early August of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Biden said that despite the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan a year ago, putting an end to 20 years of US military involvement and fighting there, his “commitment” to preventing a new attack on the US has not ended.
Biden’s speech was part of the solemn ceremony at the Pentagon at which the names of the 189 people killed in the attack there were read and the US national anthem was sung by those attending.
Shortly after that, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, first lady Jill Biden delivered a speech remembering the 44 passengers on United flight 93 who managed to disrupt a fourth attack – perhaps targeting the US Capitol or White House – by another team of terrorists.
Meanwhile, New Yorkers on Sunday observed the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon with the same solemnity and sadness as did family members who lost loved ones, and with Vice President Kamala Harris on hand to mark the occasion.
Harris was accompanied by her husband, Douglas C. Emhoff, New York Mayor Eric Adams, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under whose administration the city began reconstruction after the attacks, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials at so-called Ground Zero, where the towers once stood.
Nearby, the plaza where a fountain with the names of the victims inscribed, and which each year is filled with flowers, was jammed with visitors during the solemn memorial ceremony.
Just as on every anniversary of the attacks, it is clear that the wounds are still fresh for those who lost loved ones and attend the event carrying photos of their relatives.
Before the traditional reading of the names of the dead, several minutes of silence were observed at the time when the jets were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the Twin Towers, both of which collapsed within hours, and into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field.
As part of the ceremony, twin searchlight beams symbolizing the two towers and located at Ground Zero, illuminated the horizon starting early Sunday morning.
Twenty-one years after the terrorist attacks, fragmentary remains of more than 1,000 victims have not been able to be identified and many of those who worked to remove the rubble and clean and repair the buildings damaged in the attacks are sick with – or have died from – various forms of cancer brought on from inhaling the toxic dust resulting from the buildings’ burning and collapse.
As part of the commemorative acts, several buildings, including the New York City Hall, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Penn Station metro station will be illuminated in blue light on Sunday night.
Mayor Adams ordered all flags on buildings in the city to fly at half staff and said that the pain and sadness wrought by the attacks is still felt by all New Yorkers and Americans.
However, he added that, although nobody will ever forget the attacks, the most important and noteworthy day for him was Sept. 12, 2001, when people woke up and got back on their feet, a symbol of the “invincibility and resilience” of New York City and the US.