WASHINGTON: Americans paused on Monday to remember the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, 22 years after Islamist hijackers seized control of four jetliners and crashed them into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President Joe Biden was flying to Alaska to conclude a five-day trip to India and Vietnam, and was to deliver remarks to more than 1,000 service members, first responders and their families at a military base in Anchorage.
Biden’s decision to hold the event in Alaska, instead of Washington or New York, was a departure from what has been presidential custom.
Vice-president Kamala Harris and other officials joined families of those who died on the two planes that hit the towers and on the ground at the 9/11 Memorial – which occupies the footprints of the downed buildings – to remember the horrific day.
Also at the New York event was Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
His frontrunner rival in the race, former President Donald Trump, issued a video vowing “we will never, ever forget” the 9/11 victims.
Across the Potomac River from Washington, top US military leaders held their annual event at the Pentagon.
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff laid a wreath at the memorial for United Flight 93. One of the four hijacked planes crashed into the ground there after a passenger uprising.
The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and prompted then-president George W Bush to launch a “global war on terror” that included a military assault on Afghanistan to find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden eluded capture until he was killed in a US raid on his Pakistan compound in 2011 ordered by then-President Barack Obama.
The 9/11 attacks were the worst assault on US soil since the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where 2,400 people were killed. - Reuters