WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Bells tolled in Washington, New York and Shanksville, Pa., Wednesday to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks a dozen years ago.
In New York, families of the victims read the names as somber string music played. Relatives held photos of those who were killed when two hijacked airliners smashed into the World Trade Center twin towers.
Family members of victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center were invited to read names of the victims at Wednesday’s observance. The 1993 Trade Center bombing killed six people.
In Washington, President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, observed a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House along with White House staffers.
Following a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon, Obama told survivors and families of the victims, “In your resilience, you’ve taught us all there is no trouble we cannot endure [and] no calamity we cannot overcome.”
Obama also paid tribute to the four Americans who died a year ago on this date in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Following Obama’s remarks, a military band played “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace.”
In Shanksville, bells tolled as the names of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 were read.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. Two were flown into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City, one plowed into the Pentagon in Washington and the fourth crashed in a field near Shanksville.
The death toll: 2,753 people in the Twin Tower attacks, including 343 firefighters, 23 New York police officers and 37 Port Authority officer; 184 people at the Pentagon; and 40 passengers and flight crew members of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The passengers and crew stormed the hijacked plane’s cockpit, foiling the hijackers’ plans to fly the plane into an unknown target.
In New York, Bruni Sandoval told The New York Times she attends the observance annually to remember her friend, Nereida De Jesus.
“It helps a little,” she said.
Families gathered between the reflecting pools, placing roses and other mementos on the names of the dead as bagpipes sounded through the streets of Manhattan before the ceremony began.
The ceremony also was the last over which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presided. A new mayor will be elected Nov. 5.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrived at the ceremony riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle along with musician Billy Joel, firefighters and others participating in a tribute ride from a firehouse to ground zero.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki also attended the ceremony.
Other remembrances were scheduled in cities across the country.