Hundreds gathered at Ground Zero in New York City on Wednesday to observe the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that took 2,977 lives and left a scar in the heart of America.
On Wednesday Americans are urged to ‘never forget’ the terror attacks nor the emergency first responders who lost their lives in their rescue efforts.
Relatives and friends of the victims of the attacks will gather for a ceremony at Ground Zero Wednesday morning.
President Donald Trump is due at a ceremony at the Pentagon, where the third plane exploded, while Vice President Mike Pence will speak near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where heroic passengers brought down the fourth jet before it could reach Washington.
Former President George W. Bush, the commander-in-chief at the time of the 2001 attacks, is due at an afternoon wreath-laying at the Pentagon.
Hundreds are gathering at Ground Zero in New York City to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the horror 9/11 attacks
Relatives of some of the dead will visit Ground Zero on Wednesday where every victim’s name will be read out, and tolling bells will mark the moments when two hijacked planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists hijacked planes and drove them through the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
The names of all the victims lost in the 9/11 attacks will be read aloud at the ground zero ceremony, where moments of silence and tolling bells mark the moments when the aircraft crashed and the trade center’s twin towers fell.
Eighteen years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, the nation is still grappling with the aftermath at ground zero, in Congress and beyond.
The attacks’ aftermath is visible from airport security checkpoints to Afghanistan.
A rocket exploded at the U.S. embassy as the anniversary began in Afghanistan, where a post-9/11 invasion has become America’s longest war.
‘People say, ‘Why do you stand here, year after year?” Chundera Epps, a sister of Sept. 11 victim Christopher Epps, said at last year’s ceremony at the World Trade Center. ‘Because soldiers are still dying for our freedom. First responders are still dying and being ill.’
‘We can’t forget. Life won’t let us forget,’ she added.
Firefighters and police pictured above going through a rehearsal before the start of the ceremonies on Wednesday September 11
New York City firefighters salute in front of a memorial on the side of a firehouse adjacent to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site during ceremonies on the 18th anniversary of 9/11 on Wednesday
But there has been growing awareness in recent years of the suffering of another group of people tied to the tragedy: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to the wreckage and the toxins unleashed in it.
While research continues into whether those illnesses are tied to 9/11 toxins, a victims compensation fund for people with potentially Sept. 11-related health problems has awarded more than $5.5 billion so far. Over 51,000 people have applied.
After years of legislative gridlock, dwindling money in the fund and fervent activism by ailing first responders and their advocates, Congress this summer made sure the fund won’t run dry . Trump, a Republican and a New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, signed the measure in July.
Police stand guard before the start of ceremonies at the National September 11 Memorial on September 11, 2019
Police and bagpipers were seen going through an early morning rehearsal before the ceremony early Wednesday morning
Sam Pulia and his grandson Sammy Pulia place American flags next to the name of a relative who was a firefighter killed in the terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial on September 11, 2019
The sick gained new recognition this year at the memorial plaza at ground zero, where the new 9/11 Memorial Glade was dedicated this spring.
The tribute features six large stacks of granite inlaid with salvaged trade center steel, with a dedication “to those whose actions in our time of need led to their injury, sickness, and death.” No one is named specifically.
Some 9/11 memorials elsewhere already included sickened rescue, recovery and cleanup workers, and there is a remembrance wall entirely focused on them in Nesconset, on Long Island. But those who fell ill or were injured, and their families, say having a tribute at ground zero carries special significance.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced Monday that its 9/11 memorial will close next week for electrical and lighting work. The project, expected to take until late May, includes repairs to lighting glitches in the shallow reflecting pools under the memorial benches.
Sept. 11 is known not only as a day for remembrance and patriotism, but also as a day of service. People around the country continue to volunteer at food banks, schools, home-building projects, park cleanups and other charitable endeavors on and near the anniversary.