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The 9/11 Attacks: America remembers its fallen by Priyanka ,  Sep 11, 2013

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11[nb 1]) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within two hours, both towers collapsed with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the WTC complex, as well as major damage to ten other large surrounding structures. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense), leading to a partial collapse in its western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was targeted at Washington, D.C.,[2] but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. In total, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes. It also was the deadliest incident for firefighters in the history of the United States.

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767–United Airlines Flight 175–appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center and sliced into the south tower near the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack.

The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America's support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the country in the months before September 11 and acted as the "muscle" in the operation. The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles.

As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C., and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.

Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe.

Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane–United Flight 93–was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett Jr., told his wife over the phone that "I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey." Another passenger–Todd Beamer–was heard saying "Are you guys ready? Let's roll" over an open line. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were "Everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye."

The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.

At 7 p.m., President George W. Bush, who had spent the day being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At 9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring, "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve." In a reference to the eventual U.S. military response he declared, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Operation Enduring Freedom, the American-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist network based there, began on October 7. Within two months, U.S. forces had effectively removed the Taliban from operational power, but the war continued, as U.S. and coalition forces attempted to defeat a Taliban insurgency campaign based in neighboring Pakistan. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, remained at large until May 2, 2011, when he was finally tracked down and killed by U.S. forces at a hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In June 2011, President Barack Obama announced the beginning of large-scale troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, with a final withdrawal of U.S. forces tentatively scheduled for 2014.

At 8:46 a.m., hundreds who gathered at the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers paused in silence to mark the moment when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower -- the opening salvo of a terrorist attack that brought down the iconic buildings, killed 2,977 people and launched more than a decade of war.

Bagpipers broke the silence, and family members of victims of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 2001 attack began a solemn reading of the names of those killed at the site.

The 9/11 attack killed 2,753 people in New York, including 403 police and firefighters. The 1993 bombing killed six people.

One World Trade Center rises above the lower Manhattan skyline in New York. Twelve years after terrorists destroyed the old World Trade Center, the new World Trade Center is becoming a reality in 2013, with a museum commemorating the attacks and two office towers where thousands of people will work set to open within the next year.One World Trade Center rises above the lower Manhattan skyline in New York. Twelve years after terrorists destroyed the old World Trade Center, the new World Trade Center is becoming a reality in 2013, with a museum commemorating the attacks and two office towers where thousands of people will work set to open within the next year.Charlotte Newman, 8, visits the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, on Sunday, September 8. Charlotte Newman, 8, visits the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, on Sunday, September 8. The wedge-shaped pavilion entrance of the National September 11 Museum, center, is located between the square outlines of the memorial waterfalls at the World Trade Center.The wedge-shaped pavilion entrance of the National September 11 Museum, center, is located between the square outlines of the memorial waterfalls at the World Trade Center.A visitor to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum takes in the sight as he walks past on September 6.A visitor to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum takes in the sight as he walks past on September 6.A rose is placed next to the name of a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at the North Pool of the memorial.A rose is placed next to the name of a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at the North Pool of the memorial.9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels, left, and Museum Director Alice Greenwald speak during a tour. Several large artifacts from the original World Trade Center have been installed in the museum.9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels, left, and Museum Director Alice Greenwald speak during a tour. Several large artifacts from the original World Trade Center have been installed in the museum.Part of the World Trade Center's original foundation, left, and the last column removed from the WTC site, center, are covered in a protective wrap during construction of the museum.Part of the World Trade Center's original foundation, left, and the last column removed from the WTC site, center, are covered in a protective wrap during construction of the museum.The "Cross," made of intersecting steel beams found in the rubble of 6 World Trade Center, and a fragment of a trident column, center, one of 84 that formed the exterior structure of each tower, are prepared for display. The "Cross," made of intersecting steel beams found in the rubble of 6 World Trade Center, and a fragment of a trident column, center, one of 84 that formed the exterior structure of each tower, are prepared for display. The original stairway from the World Trade Center Plaza to Vesey Street, left, is seen at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.The original stairway from the World Trade Center Plaza to Vesey Street, left, is seen at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.The New York City Fire Department Engine Company 21 truck is covered in a protective wrap as it is prepared for display.The New York City Fire Department Engine Company 21 truck is covered in a protective wrap as it is prepared for display.Contractors work to finish construction of the memorial and museum.Contractors work to finish construction of the memorial and museum.9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museumHIDE CAPTION<<<1234567891011>>>9/11 memorial and museum9/11 memorial and museumWatch this videoObama: Always on alert for 9/11Watch this videoRudy Giuliani remembers 9/11

In Washington, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives also paused in silence outside the White House to commemorate the 9/11 victims. The Justice Department also held a moment of silence,

Another moment of silence was held in New York at 9:03 a.m., when the second jetliner, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower.

And at the Pentagon, where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed at 9:37 a.m. on September 11, Obama laid a wreath and then spoke at a private observance for family members of the 184 people who died there.

"Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away," he said.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, a bell tolled after the name of each of the passengers and crew members was read.

Members of the crew of the USS Somerset rang the bells. The Navy named the ship in honor of Flight 93 passengers who fought back against their hijackers. Forty passengers and crew died when the plane went down.

On the steps of the capitol, members of Congress also gathered to mark the occasion. It was the same place where lawmakers gathered 12 years before in the aftermath of the attacks to demonstrate unity.

"This moment is to pray for the families of the departed, and to ask God to renew our strength and replenish our grace, so that we may press on and serve without growing weary, and walk without growing faint towards that more perfect union of our founders dreams," said House Speaker John Boehner. "That is why we return to these steps today, that is why we will always return. And that is why we will never forget."

FAMILIES of the victims of the worst terror attack on the United States in history gathered to mark their 12th anniversary with a moment of silence and the reading of names.

The September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington killed almost 3000 people, led to a long war in Afghanistan and created an expansion of government surveillance powers that continues to be debated today.

At a ceremony near Wall Street in New York, people paused at 8.46am local time (10.46 AEST) to mark the time when the first of two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Centre. The twin towers later collapsed.

US President Barack Obama also marked a moment of silence at the White House and was attending a ceremony in Washington at the Pentagon, which was struck by another hijacked plane.

For Mr Obama, the prospect of more US military action in the Middle East hung over his remarks. While Mr Obama made no direct mention of the crisis in Syria, he vowed to "defend our nation'' against the threats that endure, even though they may be different than the ones facing the country during the 2001 attacks.

"Let us have the wisdom to know that while force is sometimes necessary, force alone cannot build the world we seek,'' Mr Obama said during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

The president spoke the morning after an address to the nation where he defended a possible military strike on Syria in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But he expressed some hope that a diplomatic solution might emerge that would keep the US from having to launch a strike.

Obama September 11 anniversary

US President Barack Obama places a wreath at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial park to mark the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks. Picture: AFP

Among those gathered at the Pentagon Wednesday where family members of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Many wore red, white, and blue striped ribbons and some cried as the president spoke.

"Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away, the lives that might have been,'' Mr Obama said.

The president also paid tribute to the four Americans killed one year ago in an attack on a US compound in Benghazi, Libya, asking the country to pray for those who "serve in dangerous posts'' even after more than a decade of war.

Mr Obama opened the day with a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

Along with first lady Michelle Obama, the president walked out of the White House at 8.46am local time - the moment on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first plane hit the first World Trade Center tower. Mr Obama and the others assembled bowed their heads for a moment, and then listened as a bugler played Taps.

"No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year - and it's always the same,'' said Karen Hinson, who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, in New York. His body was never found.

Sept 11 Anniversary

New Jersey woman Mija Quigley embraces the name of her son, Patrick Quigley, who died aboard Flight 175 when it crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center 12 years ago. Picture: AP

Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians will make speeches.

Around the world, thousands of volunteers have pledged to do good deeds, honouring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday led the nation in remembering the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks as well as all American soldiers who laid down their lives in subsequent wars in the 12 years since the tragedy. "Today, we remember not only those who died that September day, we pay solemn tribute to more than 6,700 patriots who have given their full measure since, military and civilians," Obama said in his remarks at a 9/11 observance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial on the 12th anniversary of the attacks. "We see their legacy in the friendships they forged, the attacks they prevented, the innocent lives they saved, and in their comrades in Afghanistan who are completing the mission and who, by the end of next year, will have helped to end this war," Obama said. Accompanied by defense secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama said it was an honour to be at the memorial to remember the tragedy of 12 Septembers ago to recall the greatness of all who responded and to stand with those who still grieve and to provide them some measure of comfort once more. "Together we pause and we pray and we give humble thanks, as families and as a nation, for the strength and the grace that from the depths of our despair has brought us up again, has revived us again, has given us the strength to keep on," he said. "We pray for the memory of all those taken from us, the nearly 3,000 innocent souls," Obama said. As many as 184 people died when a plane hijacked by terrorists crashed into the Pentagon - the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. "Twelve years ago, at this hour, in this place, a horrific act of terror claimed 184 innocent lives. Today, we come together to honour the fallen, surrounded by those who loved them. We remember each of those taken from us. We remember them as individuals with their own story," Hagel said. Earlier, at the South Lawn of the White House, Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice-President Joe Biden observed a moment of silence at precisely 8:45am (time of the first attack) to remember the victims of the world's deadliest terrorist attacks. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people when hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A nation that just stepped back from the brink of conflict with Syria paused Wednesday to honor and reflect on the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11, the day terrorist attacks spurred two other long-running conflicts in the Middle East.

In New York, hundreds of friends and families of the victims stood silently — many holding photos of their loved ones — as bagpipes played. Relatives recited the names of those killed when two hijacked commercial airliners slammed into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Another plane that day crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, and a fourth plunged into a field near Shanksville, Pa.

President Obama marked the anniversary with a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House, along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and wife Jill Biden. They walked out of the White House at 8:46 a.m. ET, the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower. Bowing their heads in a moment of silence, they were followed by a bugler playing taps.

Obama attended a Pentagon ceremony later Wednesday morning, quoting the Bible, noting the resilience of victims' families and saluting those who served in the military and launched public service projects on behalf of 9/11 victims. A huge American flag draped the building near the spot where a hijacked jet struck at 9:37 a.m., killing 184 people.

A stronger police and security presence was apparent in New York and Washington, as it has been on past 9/11 anniversaries.

In a speech to the nation Tuesday night, Obama made a case for military strikes at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, invoking the image of hundreds gassed by chemical weapons. But the president said action would be delayed while a diplomatic resolution was being pursued.

In New York, one of those reading the names of victims put out a plea to the president to avoid conflict with Syria. "Pease don't bring us to another war," said the woman, who was honoring her late uncle, Jose Manuel Cardona.

Other relatives focused on the solemness of the day.

Denise Matuza, 46, from Staten Island, lost her husband, Walter, on 9/11. She plans to return to the memorial ceremony each Sept. 11. "We'll still keep coming back," she said, as her 21-year-old son, also named Walter, and two other sons stood nearby.

Blake Catanese sits near 40 candles at the Flight 93 Memorial Wall of Names in Shanksville.(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

Outside Shanksville, dozens of relatives of those who perished aboard United Flight 93 gathered at the crash site.

"This allows us to reconnect with each other and share the day together and the sorrow," said Gordon Felt, who lost his brother Ed. "We reignite the memories of that day, so that we don't forget what happened."

Alice Hoagland, whose son, Mark Bingham was on United Flight 93, agreed that the anniversary serves a purpose. "I dread the day but I also welcome it, because we reconnect and because it's easier to be sad with other people who are, too," she said.

Hoagland was one of thousands around the nation who volunteered to work on projects as part of a 9/11 National Day of Service, a campaign launched in 2002 by victims' relatives and supporters.

"It helped turn around 9/11 for me," by making the anniversary a more positive occasion, said Hoagland, who planned to help fix up a fire training facility.

Emotions run high as relatives of 9/11 victims gather at Ground Zero twelve years after tragedy

  • In New York, the moving tribute started at 8:46 a.m. - the time when the first plane hit the twin towers back in 2001
  • Families of the victims started reading aloud the names of the almost 3,000 people who died
  • A second bell tolled at 9:03 a.m. to mark when the second plane hit the towers, then the reading of names resumed
  • Several politicians attended, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but none gave an address
  • In Washington, President Obama marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a moment of silence
  • At the Pentagon Sept. 11 memorial in Arlington, Va., victims' families, attack survivors and military officials laid a wreath and held a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. to mark the moment that Flight 77 hit the building
  • In Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m., bells were rung and names of passengers and crew members were read at the Flight 93 National Memorial

Relatives of the September 11 victims gathered at ground zero in New York City today to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attack that killed almost 3,000 people.

The moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Wednesday marked when the first plane hit the twin towers on a clear, sunny day in 2001. Then, families of the victims started reading aloud the names of those who died.

Along with the names of those who died when the hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were read out the names of those killed in the hijacked Flight 93 and the victims of the 1993 trade center bombing.

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Mija Quigley of Princeton Junction, New Jersey, embraces the name of her son Patrick Quigley who died on 9/11

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President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Jill Biden stand for a moment of silence on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, as they mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks

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Carrie Bergonia looks over the name of her fiance, firefighter Joseph Ogren, during ceremonies at the 9/11 Memorial marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

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First responders gather in lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site as the nation commemorates the anniversary of the 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and one crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

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In Arlington, Virginia, family members of the Pentagon attack victims and survivors of the attack gathered to hear from Obama and other leaders at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial near the place where terrorists drove a jetliner into the Department of Defense headquarters in 2001

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The World Trade Center Flag is presented as friends and relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks gather at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site on Wednesday morning

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Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, left, and current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, at the 9/11 Memorial ceremony to mark the 12th Anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York

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Kayla Fallon, daughter of William Fallon who died on 9/11, wipes away tears at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, left, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, pictured at the ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, left, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, pictured at the ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama put their hands on their hearts during the playing of 'Taps' as they stand on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

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Family members of New York City firefighter Christopher A. Santora from Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, observe a moment of silence during a ceremony near the firehouse on West 48th street

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Flowers and pictures are displayed by a name along the north reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial

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Retired FDNY Marshal Ernie Medaglia, of Bronxville, N.Y., who was at the attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, is emotional as he listens to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a ceremony near the 9/11 Memorial honoring first responders and FDNY Rescue 1 on the 12th anniversary of the attacks

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A woman wipers her eyes after reading the name of her brother, Bobby Hughes, at the National September 11 Memorial, left, and a pair of people embrace, right,  as friends and relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

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A TSA color guard takes part in a ceremony at Cleveland Hopkins Airport Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, marking the 12th anniversary

The Obamas hold moment of silence for 9/11

A second bell tolled at 9:03 a.m. to mark when the second plane hit the twin towers. Then the reading of the names resumed. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki attended, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Anthony Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

President Barack Obama marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

Obama, along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden, walked out of the White House at 8:46 a.m., EDT, the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower in New York a dozen years ago. 

They bowed their heads to observe a moment of silence, which was followed by a bugler playing taps.

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'It is an honor to be with you here again to remember the tragedy of 12 Septembers ago, to honor the greatness of all who responded and to stand with those who still grieve and to provide them some measure of comfort once more,' Obama said.

'Together we pause and we give humble thanks as families and as a nation.'

The president then attended a Sept. 11 observance at the Pentagon where he laid a wreath during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the worst terror attack on the U.S.

While Obama made no direct mention of the crisis in Syria, he vowed to 'defend our nation' against the threats that endure, even though they may be different than the ones facing the country during the 2001 attacks.

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Shanhellen Jiminez, left, of Brooklyn, who lost her mother Elena Ledesma on 9/11, does a crayon rubbing of her mother's name along with her boyfriend, who asked not to be named, at the 9/11 Memorial

Eighth-grader Jancarlos Brito, 14, watches a Patriot Day ceremony with fellow students on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 outside Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem, Pa., to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Eighth-grader Jancarlos Brito, 14, watches a Patriot Day ceremony with fellow students on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 outside Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem, Pa., to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

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Grissel Valentin, left, and Eileen Esquilin, who both lost family members and are both from New York, embrace at the edge of the North Pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies for the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan

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President Barack Obama greets Zoey Komongnan, right, and her grandmother Mary Komongnan after speaking at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

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President Obama greets family members of those who where lost in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon at a ceremony at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

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President Barack Obama, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, wipes his face as he speaks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon on Wednesday morning

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President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Pentagon during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the worst terror attack on the U.S.

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US President Barack Obama, left-rear, and others salute during the playing of the US National Anthem during a memorial service at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

Senate Majority Leader from Nevada Harry Reid, center, speaks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony in Washington, DC

Senate Majority Leader from Nevada Harry Reid, center, speaks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony in Washington, DC

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A woman prays at the edge of the North Pool at the 9/11 Memorial during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

‘Let us have the wisdom to know that while force is sometimes necessary, force alone cannot build the world we seek,’ Obama said during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Among those gathered at the Pentagon on Wednesday where family members of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Many wore red, white, and blue striped ribbons and some cried as the president spoke.

‘Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away, the lives that might have been,’ Obama said.

The president also paid tribute to the four Americans killed one year ago in an attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, asking the country to pray for those who ‘serve in dangerous posts’ even after more than a decade of war.

In a commemorative event at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder called on an audience of several hundred employees to remember 'the nearly 3,000 innocent people whose lives were lost' and to pay tribute to the 72 law enforcement officers who were killed trying to save others.

A woman reflects at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center

A woman reflects at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center

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Friends and relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks gather at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site

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Relatives of the victims of gather, left, at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site, while Daniel Henry, right, a Port Authority of New York/New Jersey police officer observes a moment of silence at 9:01 am EDT

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Hannah Townsend, 25, gives a prayer next to the One World Trade tower at Ground Zero on September 11, 2013 in New York City

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Singer Billy Joel, left, and motorcycle designer and television personality Paul Teutul, Jr., look up at One World Trade Center Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, after they rode with firefighters and first responders with the FDNY Motorcycle Club from FDNY Rescue 1 headquarters to the World Trade Center site

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Gail Silke, left, and her niece Erica Tierney trace the name of Gail's brother Steven Bristoll who died while working as a police officer on September 11, 2001

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Relatives rub the names listed on the edge of a reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center

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Family members of Ji Yao Justin Zhao pay their respect to him at the South Poll of the 9/11 Memorial during ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

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The World Trade Center Flag is presented as friends and relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks gather at the National September 11 Memorial

UNITED IN REMEMBRANCE: THE DIFFERENT EVENTS MARKING THIS YEAR'S  9/11 ANNIVERSARY

NEW YORK CITYIn a sadly familiar ceremony, friends and relatives of World Trade Center attack victims gathered at the National Sept. 11 Memorial plaza to call out the names of the dead and read messages to their lost loved ones.A bell tolled to mark the moments when four hijacked jets crashed into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in the Pennsylvania countryside, and again to mark the moments when the two skyscrapers collapsed.Several politicians attended, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Gov. George Pataki, but none gave an address.WASHINGTONPresident Barack Obama held a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. on the White House's South Lawn to mark the first attack in New York. He was joined by Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden. A bugler played 'Taps.'At the Pentagon Sept. 11 memorial in Arlington, Va., victims' families, attack survivors and military officials laid a wreath and held a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. to mark the moment that Flight 77 hit the building.PENNSYLVANIAMore than 200 people gathered at the Flight 93 National Memorial to read the names of 40 passengers and crew killed when the airliner crashed into a field near the small town of Shanksville.

Recalling the passengers and crew who had fought the hijackers, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the assembled families and spectators, 'We never know when we'll be called to lay down our lives for others.'

Prior to the morning ceremony at the two-year-old memorial plaza in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, musician Billy Joel, firefighters and others had joined in a tribute motorcycle ride from a Manhattan firehouse to ground zero.

'Daddy, I miss you so much, and I think about you every day,' Christina Aceto said of her father, Richard Anthony Aceto. 'You were more than just my daddy, you were my best friend.'

Near the memorial plaza, police barricades blocked access to the site, even as life around the World Trade Center looked like any other morning, with workers rushing to their jobs and construction cranes looming over the area.

'No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year - and it's always the same,' said Karen Hinson of Seaford, N.Y., who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee.

'My brother was never found, so this is where he is for us,' she said as she arrived for the ceremony with her family early Wednesday.

Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians will speak, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Over his years as mayor and chairman of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, Bloomberg has sometimes tangled with victims' relatives, religious leaders and other elected officials over an event steeped in symbolism and emotion.

But his administration has largely succeeded at its goal of keeping the commemoration centered on the attacks' victims and their families and relatively free of political image-making.

'Joe, we honor you today and all those lost on Sept. 11,' said Kathleen O'Shea, whose nephew Joseph Gullickson was a firefighter in Brooklyn. 'Everyone sends their love and asks that you continue to watch over us all, especially your wife.'

Memorial organizers expect to take primary responsibility for the ceremony next year and say they plan to continue concentrating the event on victims' loved ones, even as the forthcoming museum creates a new, broader framework for remembering 9/11.

'As things evolve in the future, the focus on the remembrance is going to stay sacrosanct,' memorial President Joe Daniels said.

Hinson said she would like the annual ceremony to be 'more low-key, more private' as the years go by.

The 12th anniversary also arrives with changes coming at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where officials gathered Tuesday to herald the start of construction on a visitor center.

Around the world, thousands of volunteers have pledged to do good deeds, honoring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009.

When Bloomberg and then-Gov. George Pataki announced the plans for the first anniversary in 2002, the mayor said the 'intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful.'

His role hasn't always been comfortable. When the ceremony was shifted to nearby Zuccotti Park in 2007 because of rebuilding at the trade center site, some victims' relatives threatened to boycott the occasion.

The lead-up to the 10th anniversary brought pressure to invite more political figures and to include clergy in the ceremony.

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Jose Rosales observes a moment of silence honoring the victims of the September 11 attacks outside the World Trade Center site, where bagpipes, bells and a reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed took place to mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001

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TSA agents sing 'God Bless America' at a checkpoint in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks

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A woman gazes at the One World Trade Center as church bells toll for 9/11 victims on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and one crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Friends and family members gather at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York

Friends and family members gather at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden observe a moment of silence to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

By next year's anniversary, Bloomberg will be out of office, and the museum is expected to be open beneath the memorial plaza.

While the memorial honors those killed, the museum is intended to present a broader picture of 9/11, including the experiences of survivors and first responders.

But the organizers expect they 'will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary,' Daniels said.

That focus was clear as relatives gathered last September on the tree-laden plaza, where a smaller crowd was gathering Wednesday - only friends and family of the victims were allowed.

Bruni Sandolval carried a large photo of childhood friend Nereida DeJesus, a victim.

'We grew up together on the Lower East Side and I come every year with her family,' she said. 'Coming here is peaceful in a way.'

Denise Matuza, who lost her husband on Sept. 11, said people ask her why she still comes to the service with her three sons.

'It doesn't make us feel good to stay home,' she said. Her husband called after the towers were struck. 'He said a plane hit the building, they were finding their way out, he'd be home in a little while. I just waited and waited,' she said.

'A few days later I found an email he had sent that they couldn't get out.'

Obama honors 9-11 victims at Pentagon
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Obama, along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden, walked out of the White House at 8:46 a.m., EDT, the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower in New York a dozen years ago

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A man reflects on the benches of the Pentagon Memorial at the Pentagon in Washington, DC

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President Obama wipes his face as he delivers remarks during a remembrance ceremony for the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia

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Steven Campbell pauses on September 11, 2013 to remember his wife Jill Maurer-Campbell during the 9/11 Memorial ceremonies

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Antoni Cortes, and his wife Grace clean a portrait of their daughter Adrianed Oyola as they pay their respect to her at the South Pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

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Hector Garcia of Brooklyn and his daughter Tania hold a placard with a photo of their daughter and sister Marlyn who died in the attacks as they attend ceremonies for the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site

9/11 12TH ANNIVERSARY: THE HEROES OF FLIGHT 93 ARE REMEMBERED IN PENNSYLVANIA

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Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial participate in a sunset ceremony with a giant flag memorializing Flight 93 on Tuesday

In Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m., bells were rung and names of passengers and crew members were read at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The families of the passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 recalled their loved ones as heroes who made history with unselfish and quick actions.

'In a period of 22 minutes, our loved ones made history,' said Gordon Felt, the president of the Families of Flight 93, whose brother, Edward, was among the 33 passengers and seven crew members aboard the hijacked plane on Sept. 11, 2001.

Families of those aboard the plane, along with nearly 200 more people, read the names aloud and bells tolled, as they marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.

As passenger Todd Beamer issued the rallying cry 'Let's roll,' he and several fellow passengers rushed down the airliner's aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers after learning of the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that the hijackers downed the plane as the hostages revolted.

As the names were read, a light haze began to burn off the surrounding hills. The memorial wall of white stone has each victim's name engraved on a separate panel, and the scene was framed by yellow wildflowers behind the stones.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recalled the sacrifice the passengers made.

'We never know when we'll be called to lay down our lives for others,' she said, speaking of the bravery of passengers and crew who fought back against the hijackers.

The reading of names and tolling of bells was the first part of the Flight 93 National Memorial's plans to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Later Wednesday, park rangers and volunteers will give presentations about Flight 93 and the creation of the memorial park, which is located in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

A groundbreaking for a 6,800-square-foot visitor center was held Tuesday. The building will be broken in two at the point of the plane's flight path overhead. It is expected to open in late 2015.

The first features of the memorial in Shanksville were completed and dedicated in September 2011, including new roads and a Memorial Plaza near the crash site. Forty memorial groves of trees have also been planted, and large sections of the park have been replanted or reforested.

The tale of the courageous actions of everyday people aboard Flight 93 helped provide a measure of optimism for the American public in the dark days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks.

It also inspired a 2006 docudrama, 'United 93,' the first big-screen dramatization about the terrorist attacks that used a cast of unknown actors and played out roughly in real time from the passenger check-in to the crash.

Visitors to the park have left more than 35,000 tributes at the site, and they have been collected as part of an archival collection.

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Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, center, pauses as she places a lantern at the wall containing the 40 names of the crew and passengers of Flight 93 at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Tuesday

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A photo of New York City Firefighter James Crawford who died during the attacks of September 11, 2001 was put there by his family as they came to participate in the 9/11 Memorial ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary

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Relatives at the 9/11 Memorial during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City

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People walk along the 9/11 Memorial as the nation commemorates the anniversary of the 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and one crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

A woman walks along Hudson River at sunrise across from New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2013

A woman walks along Hudson River at sunrise across from New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2013

Tribute In Light: Two beams were lit on Tuesday in preparation for today's anniversary

Tribute In Light: Two beams were lit on Tuesday behind the Statue of Liberty in preparation for today's anniversary

Iconic: The tribute shines above the Manhattan skyline.

Iconic: The tribute shines above the Manhattan skyline. Today the names of almost 3,000 people killed in the World Trade Center and 9/11 attacks will be read out at ground zero

Stunning: The powerful Tribute In Light is one of a number of memorial plans for the 12th anniversary

Stunning: The powerful Tribute In Light is one of a number of memorial plans for the 12th anniversary

Memorial: The light display commemorates the twin towers of the World Trade Center

Memorial: The light display commemorates the twin towers of the World Trade Center

Memorial: The tribute has been an annual fixture since 2010 after first being installed in 2002

Memorial: The tribute has been an annual fixture since 2010 after first being installed in 2002

Ring of light: The Tribute in Light can be seen rising above buildings in lower Manhattan, during a test on Tuesday

Ring of light: The Tribute in Light can be seen rising above buildings in lower Manhattan, during a test on Tuesday

Focus: Memorial organizers are expected to take primary responsibility for the annual memorial from next year

Focus: Memorial organizers are expected to take primary responsibility for the annual memorial from next year and say the families of victims will remain the focus of the ceremonies

Lighting up the city: The two columns, made up of 88 searchlights, was originally installed in 2002 by New York's Municipal Art Society

Lighting up the city: The two columns, made up of 88 searchlights, was originally installed in 2002 by New York's Municipal Art Society

For everyone: On clear nights, the lights can be seen from over 60 miles away and visible to all of New York City

For everyone: On clear nights, the lights can be seen from over 60 miles away and visible to all of New York City

In the distance: A Brooklyn subway passes over a bridge as New York City's Tribute In Light shines in the background

In the distance: A Brooklyn subway passes over a bridge as New York City's Tribute In Light shines in the background

The world mourns: New York will host a memorial at ground zero and ceremonies will be held across the U.S. and the globe

The world mourns: New York will host a memorial at ground zero and ceremonies will be held across the U.S. and the globe

9/11: Nearly 3,000 people died when four hijacked planes were used in coordinated strikes

9/11: Nearly 3,000 people died when four hijacked planes were used in coordinated strikes on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers (pictured). The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania

Poignant: 3,000 flags are placed in memory of those killed on September 11 at a park in Winnetka, Illinois

Poignant: 3,000 flags are placed in memory of those killed on September 11 at a park in Winnetka, Illinois

Fitting: The flags represent each person killed in the coordinated strikes on the U.S. 12 years ago

Fitting: The flags represent each person killed in the coordinated strikes on the U.S. 12 years ago

Fallon Kayla September 11 2013 WTC NY Kayla Fallon, daughter of William Fallon who perished in Tower One when she was 8 years, old reacts when she visits the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2013. Reuters
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