U.S. Marks 17th Anniversary of 9/11 AttacksTop Stories

September 11, 2018 10:18
U.S. Marks 17th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

(Image source from: VOA News)

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 Mike Pence, Vice President will head to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on September 11, 2001, in the fatal terror attack on American soil.

The president and first lady Melania Trump plan to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Pennsylvania's Shanksville, 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."

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on 9/11 when international terrorism hit home in a way it previously had not for many Americans.

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 marks are by now acquainted rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But yearly at ground zero, victims' relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of concern, remembrance, and inspiration.

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 advances volunteering on an anniversary that was announced as a national day of service in 2009, habitually asks candidates not to run political ads or campaign for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony let politicians attend, but they have 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 start out soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.

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

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

By Sowmya Sangam

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9/11 Attack  World Trade Center  9/11