Relatives of people who died on 9/11 have read out victims’ names, as America marks 20 years since the deadliest terror attacks on its soil.
Many struggled to hold back tears at the ceremony held at Ground Zero, the site of the Twin Towers destroyed in the attacks by al-Qaeda militants.
A minute’s silence was held at the exact time each hijacked plane crashed.
George W. Bush, who was the president at the time, gave a speech in Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed into a field after passengers overpowered the hijackers.
The official memorial started with a minute’s silence at 08:46 – the exact moment the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.
All morning, roses continued to be placed beside the names of the 2,977 victims etched into the Ground Zero memorial.
There were five more moments of silence over the next few hours – marking the time when the second plane crashed into the South Tower, when a third jet struck the Pentagon just outside Washington DC, when the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, and finally when each tower collapsed.
The tributes will continue into the night, when two beams of light will shine 4 miles into the sky where the towers stood.
With thousands of names to read out, the list took hours to get through.
At the memorial in New York, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as former First Ladies Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.
President Biden traveled to all three attack sites on September 11 – New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In a video released on the eve of the anniversary, he paid tribute to the victims.
“No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago,” the president said.
VP Kamala Harris spoke in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after George W. Bush.
“We must challenge ourselves to look back, to remember, for the sake of our children… and for that reason, we must also look forward,” she said.
In the morning, former President Donald Trump released a video statement, praising first responders – and adding it was a “sad time for the way our war on those that did such harm to our country ended last week” – referring to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, Donald Trump planned to take part in something quite different later in the day – providing commentary for a boxing match in Florida with his eldest son, Donald Jr.
Other ceremonies included a vigil at the New York Fire Department’s memorial wall – a 56-foot bronze wall that honors the 343 firefighters who died on the day of the attacks.
In total, 441 first responders were killed, the largest loss of emergency personnel in US history.
At the Pentagon outside Washington, a dawn service was held.
Two pipers played Amazing Grace as a small group of military leaders looked on in solemnity, the building bathed in blue light.
A chapel of remembrance now marks the spot where American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the US defense building.
President Trump acknowledged the more than five million young men and women who joined the military since 9/11 to “defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction”.
“We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth,” he continued.
Earlier, President Trump appeared at the White House for a commemoration.
Meanwhile, relatives of 9/11 victims, survivors, rescuers and others gathered at New York’s 9/11 memorial at 08:46 to mark the exact time the first plane struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
The second plane slammed into the South Tower at 09:03.
The names of the 3,000 killed were read aloud at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum as bells rang out in memory of the dead.
Each year on the anniversary, two light beams illuminate the sky in place of the two towers.
The fourth plane went down at 10:03 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where crew members wrestled hijackers for control of plane, forcing it down in a rural field instead of its intended target in Washington.
VP Mike Pence and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke appeared in Shanksville, where ground was broken a day before for a 93ft tower at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The Tower of Voices will remember the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died on Flight 93.
The 13th anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 terror attack will be marked with a solemn reading of the names and moments of silence at the precise times of tragedy.
As the nation pauses to mark the commemoration of the September 11, 2001, terror attack, little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed.
However, for the first time, the National September 11 Museum — which includes gut-wrenching artifacts and graphic photos of the attacks — will be open on the anniversary. Fences around the memorial plaza have come down, integrating the sacred site more fully with the streets of Manhattan while completely opening it up to the public and camera-wielding tourists.
A nearly completed One World Trade Center has risen 1,776 feet above ground zero and will be filled with office workers by this date in 2015, another sign that a page in the city’s history may be turning.
For some who lost loved ones in the attacks, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.
The 13th anniversary commemoration of the September 11 terror attack will be marked with a solemn reading of the names and moments of silence at the precise times of tragedy
As happens annually, family members of those killed in the attacks will gather Thursday morning to read the names of the deceased, pausing the sad roll call only four times: to mark the times when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the second plane struck, when the first tower fell and when the second tower fell.
The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and available only to family members. It will reopen at 6 p.m., at which point thousands of New Yorkers are expected to mark the anniversary at the twin reflecting pools where the towers once stood.
In May, when the museum opened in a ceremony attended by President Barack Obama, the fences that had surrounded the plaza for years disappeared, as did the need for visitors to obtain a timed ticket. Now, thousands of people freely visit every day, from cellphone-toting travelers to workers on a lunch break, and those crowds will only swell further this year when One World Trade Center finally opens.
The first ceremony at the site was held six months after the Twin Towers fell and was organized by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides. Michael Bloomberg, who took office just three months after the attacks, remained in charge, acting as the master of ceremonies for the next decade.
After other elected officials attempted to gain a larger role at the solemn event, in 2012, all politicians — including Michael Bloomberg — were prohibited from speaking at the event. That remains the case now, as new mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in January, agreed to let the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation organize the commemoration ceremony. Michael Bloomberg is the foundation’s chairman.
Pasquale Buzzelli, a structural engineer who became a legend after “surfing” down a wave of falling debris during 9/11, has spoken about his miracle survival and how having children has helped him rebuild his life.
Pasquale Buzzelli, 43, who was working as a structural engineer for the Manhattan Port Authority, was one of the last to evacuate the North Tower as it began to collapse.
He claims that he had reached the 22nd floor when the building collapsed beneath him and he was carried down through a blizzard of debris to the seventh floor, where he was rescued by firefighters.
At the time his wife Louise was pregnant with their first child Hope, now ten, and they have since had a second daughter Mia, seven.
He suffered survivor’s guilt for years afterwards but has finally come to terms with the grief thanks to his family.
Pasquale Buzzelli said: “Time heals all wounds and you start to experience joy.
“With the birth of Mia I was finally able to experience those feelings and not feel guilt. In that sense I’ve realized that the best way to honor those that didn’t make it, is to be the best person that I can be.”
His story is told in the Discovery Channel and Channel 4 documentary 9/11 The Miracle Survivor which is screened next week on the 11th anniversary of the disaster.
Pasquale Buzzelli was one of the last to evacuate the North Tower as it began to collapse
Holding the battered briefcase he was carrying that day, he said: “I haven’t opened this up in quite a few years. I came across it in my basement a couple of years after 9/11. I don’t even keep it in the house as it’s a constant reminder of that day. Its basically rode down the building with me and its battered and torn and just a reminder of how lucky I was to survive.”
His story of survival has divided experts. Shiya Ribowsky, who led the investigation into 9/11, said: “You know I have a healthy skepticism which is in no way a reflection on this man’s character.
“In forensics there are certain statistics about the likelihood of surviving a fall and once you get above five stories then statistics are pretty grim. So you’re talking about an exceptional situation. You’re talking the wings of angels here.”
However, Prof. Thomas Eager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has studied the physics of the collapse and believes that the hurricane force wind pushed him down 15 stories.
“His description of a rollercoaster clinched it for me in believing the whole thing,” he said.
Pasquale Buzzelli, who now works in emergency planning for the Port Authority, was in an elevator on his way up to his office the 64thfloor of the North Tower, when the first plane struck at 8:46 a.m.
But instead of evacuating the building, he felt a duty to remain at his desk. He and his colleagues at the Port Authority, were watching the news when the second plane hit.
They finally began to exit at Stairway B, reaching the 22nd floor at 10:28 a.m. when the tower began to collapse.
“I thought something heavy is falling through the stairs or part of the building is collapsing and falling through,” he said.
“I just dove into the stairwell, went into a foetal position, covered my face and hands and buried myself as close to the wall as possible to protect myself from anything falling through.
“It was then that I felt the wall that I was next to and the base of the floor crack open and give way. That’s when I knew that that was it: the entire building was going. I said to myself: <<My God I can’t believe this is. I’m going to die>>. I thought of my wife, my unborn child.”
Pasquale Buzzelli’s wife Louise, who was seven months pregnant with their oldest daughter Hope, now ten – they have a second daughter Mia, six – watched in horror as the tower collapsed.
“I knew it was over then at that point,” she said.
“I couldn’t watch anymore. I couldn’t believe that I was there watching this, carrying our first baby. I was a widow and I watched it and there was nothing I could do.”
But, incredibly, Pasquale Buzzelli began to freefall down the stairwell until he landed on the seventh floor. He regained consciousness three hours later, surrounded by twisted metal, with a badly injured ankle.
“I was totally numb,” he said.
“I felt nothing at all. I just opened my eyes and saw blue sky. I really thought I was dead until I started to cough and I started to feel pain in my leg. At that point I started calling out: <<Help. Help.>>”
Back at Ground Zero, firefighters Mike Lyons and Mike Moribito, who disobeyed orders to search the wreckage, found Pasquale Buzzelli as he was beginning to fear he would be burnt alive.
“He looked like he was in a castle,” said Mike Moribito.
“He was sitting there in broad daylight like a king on top of a hill. I can remember it as clear as day.”
Within hours Paquale Buzzelli was in an ambulance on his way to hospital. His first thought was to call his wife Louise.
“I picked up the phone and said: <<Hello?>>” she said.
“I heard his voice and he said: <<Louise it’s me>>. And I said: <<Oh my god Pascale. It’s you>>. And everyone in the house just screamed.”
However, Pasquale Buzzelli began to suffer from survivors’ guilt and it was only a reunion with Mike Lyons, who was also suffered traumatic stress disorder that brought him out of his depression. Mike Lyons’ girlfriend Kathryn traced Pasquale Buzzelli and they now meet regularly.
“Time heals all wounds and you start to experience joy,” he said.
“With the birth of Mia I was finally able to experience those feelings and not feel guilt. In that sense I’ve realized that the best way to honor those that didn’t make it, is tot be the best person that I can be.”
9/11 The Miracle Survivor is screened on Channel 4 at 10:00 p.m. on Monday September 10 and 11:10 p.m. the following night. An e-book We All Fall Down: The True Story of the 9/11 Surfer by Pasquale and Louise Buzzelli is published on Amazon on September 8.
Cyndi Lauper is now highly criticized on Twitter for changing the lyrics of the US national anthem at the US Open during the remembrance ceremony of the 9/11 10th anniversary.
Cyndi Lauper performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the beginning of the women’s final tennis match between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
Cyndi Lauper singing US national anthem at US Open 9/11 commemoration
Cyndi Lauper was doing fine until she got to that crucial line regarding ”the ramparts we watched,” the same line that Christina Aguilera famously botched during 2011 Super Bowl.
While Christina Aguilera’s error involved a reference to “the twilight’s last reaming” — a line that surely Francis Scott Key did not have in mind when he wrote the poem that inspired America’s definitive piece of musical patriotism — Cyndi Lauper changed the lyric less significantly.
Cyndi Lauper sang “O’er the ramparts, we watched as our flag was still streaming,” instead of the usual “O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming.”
After this incident, all tweeters went nuts and, in yet another irony, blasted Cyndi Lauper for making such a terrible mistake while making an error of their own and completely misspelling her name –“Yes, Cindy Lauper has been a trending topic tonight on the social networking site.”
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