18 years later, America vows to ‘never forget’ 9/11 terror attacks
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18 years later, America vows to ‘never forget’ 9/11 terror attacks

Memorials for victims of worst terror attack in US history held at Ground Zero, other crash sites and in Jerusalem

A US flag hanging from a steel girder, damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2019, as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
A US flag hanging from a steel girder, damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2019, as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

People who were too young on 9/11 to even remember their lost loved ones, and others for whom the grief is still raw, paid tribute with wreath layings and the solemn roll call of the dead Wednesday as America marked the 18th anniversary of the worst terror attack on US soil.

“Eighteen years. We will not forget. We cannot forget,” Bud Salter, who lost his sister, Catherine, said at ground zero.

US President Donald Trump laid a wreath at the Pentagon, telling victims’ relatives: “This is your anniversary of personal and permanent loss.”

“It’s the day that has replayed in your memory a thousand times over. The last kiss. The last phone call. The last time hearing those precious words, ‘I love you,'” the president said.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a moment of silence honoring the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, on the South Lawn of the White House, September 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the third site where planes crashed on September 11, 2001, Vice President Mike Pence credited the crew and passengers who fought back against the hijackers with protecting him and others in the US Capitol that day.

“I will always believe that I and many others in our nation’s capital were able to go home that day and hug our families because of the courage and selflessness of your families,” said Pence, who was an Indiana congressman at the time. Officials concluded the attackers had been aiming the plane toward Washington.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorist-piloted planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania.

In Israel, a ceremony was held at the 9/11 memorial in Jerusalem, which according to the Jewish National Fund is the only such memorial outside the US to include the names of all the victims.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a speech during a ceremony commemorating the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in Jerusalem on September 10, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

“We stood together in solidarity on 9/11 and we knew that terrorism could not defeat us. Standing here today at this beautiful memorial, we all recall that terrible day in 2001 and we honor the memory of the victims,” US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, according to a JNF statement.

“In their honor, let us also reaffirm our sense of solidarity and commitment to our most cherished values. That will be the lasting legacy of 9/11,” Friedman added.

Also attending the ceremony were Israeli relatives of 9/11 victims, United Airlines pilots, policemen and firefighters, JNF said.

A 9/11 memorial ceremony was also held in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening and was attended by Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

“We stand together with the United States of America in our common struggle against barbarism and terrorism,” the premier wrote Wednesday on his Twitter account.

After reading part of the long list of names, Parboti Parbhu choked up as she spoke from the ground zero podium about her slain sister, Hardai. Even after nearly two decades, “There’s no easy way to say goodbye,” she said.

The names are read of victims of the 9/11 attacks during a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary at the National September 11 Memorial, September 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

By now, the heritage of grief has been handed down to a new generation, including children and young adults who knew their lost relatives barely or not at all.

Jacob Campbell was 10 months old when his mother, Jill Maurer-Campbell, died on 9/11.

“It’s interesting growing up in a generation that doesn’t really remember it. I feel a connection that no one I go to school with can really understand,” Campbell, a University of Michigan sophomore, said as he attended the ceremony.

Like the families, the nation is still grappling with the aftermath of September 11. The effects are visible from airport security checkpoints to Afghanistan, where the post-9/11 US invasion has become America’s longest war. The aim was to dislodge Afghanistan’s then-ruling Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda leader and September 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Earlier this week, Trump called off a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan government leaders and declared the peace talks “dead.” As the September 11 anniversary began in Afghanistan, a rocket exploded at the US Embassy just after midnight, with no injuries reported.

Al-Qaeda’s current leader used the anniversary to call for more attacks on the US and other targets.

A woman stands next to the north pool prior to a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, September 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

At ground zero, Nicholas Haros Jr., who lost his mother, Frances, reminded the audience of the al-Qaeda attackers and tore into Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota over her recent “Some people did something” reference to 9/11.

“Our constitutional freedoms were attacked, and our nation’s founding on Judeo-Christian values was attacked. That’s what ‘some people’ did. Got that now?” he said to applause.

Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, has said she didn’t intend to minimize what happened on September 11, and accused critics of taking her words out of context. She tweeted Wednesday that “September 11th was an attack on all of us.”

The dead included Muslims, as Zaheda Rahman underscored after reading names at ground zero. She called her uncle, Abul Chowdhury, a “proud Muslim-American man who lived his life with a carefree nature, a zeal for adventure and a tenacity which I emulate every single day.”

A man holds a photo of a victim during a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, at the National September 11 Memorial, September 11, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Others made a point of spotlighting the suffering of firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after being exposed to the smoke and dust at ground zero.

A compensation fund for people with potentially September 11-related health problems has paid out more than $5.5 billion so far. More than 51,000 people have applied. Over the summer, Congress made sure the fund won’t run dry.

The sick also gained new recognition this year at the World Trade Center site, where a memorial glade was dedicated this spring.

September 11 has become known also as a day of service. People around the country volunteer at food banks, schools, home-building projects, park cleanups and other community events around the anniversary.

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