Trump to mark 9/11 at Flight 93 Pennsylvania memorial
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Trump to mark 9/11 at Flight 93 Pennsylvania memorial

President and first lady will honor passengers and crew on hijacked flight who fought back against terrorists; Pence to attend Pentagon ceremony

In this Sept. 9, 2018 file photo, people attending the dedication stand around the 93-foot tall Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where the tower contains 40 wind chimes representing the 40 people that perished in the crash of Flight 93 in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool)
In this Sept. 9, 2018 file photo, people attending the dedication stand around the 93-foot tall Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where the tower contains 40 wind chimes representing the 40 people that perished in the crash of Flight 93 in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool)

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are commemorating 9/11 with somber tributes, volunteer projects and a new monument to victims, after a year when two attacks demonstrated the enduring threat of terrorism in the nation’s biggest city.

Thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected at Tuesday’s anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center, while President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will head to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on September 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

The president and first lady Melania Trump plan to join an observance at the September 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a new “Tower of Voices” was dedicated Saturday.

Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon. Trump, a Republican and native New Yorker, took the occasion of last year’s anniversary to issue a stern warning to extremists that “America cannot be intimidated.”

In this June 7, 2018 file photo, the World Trade Center site is seen from an upper floor of 3 World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FIle)

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on 9/11, when international terrorism hit home in a way it previously hadn’t for many Americans. September 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it’s less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.

US President Donald Trump speaks at a memorial service at the Pentagon for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

A stark reminder came not long after last year’s anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.

In December, a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, concern and inspiration.

“What I can say today is that I don’t live my life in complacency,” Debra Epps said last year as she remembered her brother, Christopher Epps. “I stand in solidarity that this world will make a change for the better.”

Hours after the ceremony, two powerful light beams will soar into the night sky from lower Manhattan in the annual “Tribute in Light.”

The Tribute in Light rises above the lower Manhattan skyline, Sept. 10, 2017, in New York (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This year’s anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from politics.

The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on an anniversary that was declared a national day of service in 2009, routinely asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend, but they’ve been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.

Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at Shanksville, where the Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.

It will serve as a way to honor those who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses among people who spent time in the rubble.

In this September 11, 2001 file photo, as seen from the New Jersey Turnpike near Kearny, New Jersey, smoke billows from the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York after airplanes crashed into both towers (AP Photo/Gene Boyars, File)

About 38,500 people have applied to a compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.

Meanwhile, rebuilding continues. A subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site. A performing arts center is rising.

However, work was suspended in December on replacing a Greek Orthodox church crushed in the attacks; the project hit financial problems.

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