By Jairo Mejia
New York, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- Americans marked Friday’s 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with tributes to the nearly 3,000 people killed on that day even as the number of lives claimed by coronavirus in the United States approached 193,000.
Ceremonies at “Ground Zero” in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, looked back to the events that spurred Washington’s open-ended global war on terror.
Because of the pandemic, participation in the commemorations was limited to officials and families of the victims.
The observance in New York took place in the memorial plaza that overlooks two reflecting pools built where the original World Trade Center twin towers stood.
Bells rang at 8.46 am, when the first hijacked airliner slammed into the north tower, followed 17 minutes later by the impact of a second passenger jet on the south tower.
More than 2,600 New Yorkers perished that day, including more than 350 firefighters and paramedics and 60 police officers.
This year’s Sept. 11 commemoration in New York was especially somber because of the toll Covid-19 has taken on the Big Apple, where the illness is blamed for nearly 24,000 deaths.
The fatalities and the economic damage resulting from the extended lockdown have brought the city to its lowest ebb since the terrorist attacks.
Joining local officials and victims’ families at Ground Zero were Vice President Mike Pence and his predecessor in that post, Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
The two men managed to put aside the rancor of what is shaping up to be a particularly acrimonious campaign, bumping elbows in greeting and chatting amiably.
President Donald Trump traveled Friday to rural Pennsylvania to give a speech at the memorial erected outside Shanksville near the spot where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, amid a struggle between the passengers and the al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked the plane.
A total of 40 people were aboard the plane, the only one of the four jets commandeered on that fateful morning not to reach its target, thought to be either the White House or the Capitol.
The 40 people aboard, who had learned about the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, decided to storm the cabin and sacrifice themselves to prevent a larger loss of life.
“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall, and fight back,” Trump said Friday.
“Our sacred task, our righteous duty, and our solemn pledge is to carry forward the noble legacy of the brave souls who gave their lives for us 19 years ago,” he said. “In their memory, we resolve to stand united as one American nation, to defend our freedoms, to uphold our values, to love our neighbors, to cherish our country, to care for our communities, to honor our heroes, and to never, ever forget.”
Biden paid a visit to Shanksville later Friday, placing a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial and spending time with victims’ families. EFE jmr/dr