The US on Saturday celebrated the 20th anniversary of 9/11, with solemn celebrations over the recent chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban to power.
Heartbreaking memories will unfold at each of the three sites where 19 al-Qaeda hijackers – mostly from Saudi Arabia – crashed packed planes, striking the cultural, financial and political hearts of the United States and the world. changed forever.
The memorials coincide with the US troops who eventually departed Afghanistan, but national strife – and for President Joe Biden, the political crisis – are overshadowing any sense of closure.
At New York’s Ground Zero, where two pools of water now stand where the Twin Towers used to be, relatives will read the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the four-hour-long service, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (GMT). )
Six moments of silence will be observed, corresponding to the time when two World Trade Center towers collided and fell, and the moment the Pentagon was attacked and Flight 93 crashed.
Monica Iaken-Murphy, who lost her 37-year-old husband, Michael Iaken, at the World Trade Center, says it will be an “enhanced” anniversary for many Americans.
But for him, like many other survivors, the pain never subsided.
“I feel like it just happened,” she told AFP.
An entire generation has grown up since the dawn of September 11, 2001.
In the interim, al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was hunted down and executed. A giant new skyscraper has sprung up over Manhattan, replacing the Twin Towers. And in less than two weeks, the last American troops took off from Kabul airport, ending the so-called “forever war”.
But the Taliban, who once harbored bin Laden, are ruling Afghanistan, humiliated by the mighty US military. In Guantanamo Bay, accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others still await trial nine years after the charges were filed.
The full story of how the attack happened is also a secret. Just last week, Biden ordered the release of classified documents from the FBI investigation over the next six months.
– ‘Honor and Memorable’ –
At Ground Zero, about 2,753 people from around the world were killed in the initial explosions, killed, or simply disappeared in the hell of collapsing towers.
At the Pentagon, a plane made a sharp hole next to the superpower’s military nerve center, killing 184 people on the plane and on the ground.
And in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a third wave of hijackers crashed into a field after the passengers fought back, sending United down 93 before reaching their intended goal – possibly the US Capitol building in Washington.
The White House said Biden and First Lady Jill Biden would stop at each of these locations on Saturday and “respect and remember those lost.”
The president had planned to make it an important day for his nearly eight-month-old presidency.
However, instead of presiding over a moment of unity, Biden would leave a nation angry about the Kabul evacuation, which involved 13 US soldiers killed by a suicide bomber, and stunned by a widespread sense of failure and defeat. .
For relatives of victims, as always, the anniversary is about keeping the memory of their loved ones alive.
“It’s like Pearl Harbor,” said Frank Siller, whose firefighter brother Stephen died at the World Trade Center.
“Those who weren’t alive don’t have the same feeling about it as those who did. But America has never forgotten about Pearl Harbor and America will never forget about 9/11.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)