Twenty years on, New York has not forgotten.
Relatives of those slaughtered in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 gathered Saturday to honor their lost loved ones at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.
Mourners, each bearing a red rose, solemnly paced the 9/11 Memorial Plaza under clear blue skies mirroring those of that sparkling September morning two decades ago — a late-summer day turned nightmare as America was assaulted by passenger planes transformed into missiles by al Qaeda terrorists.
NYPD bagpipers played on the sidewalk outside the memorial as family members arrived.
President Biden, his wife Jill, and a procession of dignitaries including former President Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor de Blasio, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gov. George Pataki, State Attorney General Letitia James, and Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams joined the crowd — limited, due to coronavirus restrictions, to family members of those slain in the Sept. 11 assaults.
The controversial stricture meant that hero first responders, and the families of hundreds who later died of 9/11-related illnesses, were barred from attending.
Those permitted inside the tight cordon were drawn to the black parapets surrounding the waterfall fountains that mark the footprints of the fallen towers. There they placed American flags, photographs, mementos, and red, white, and yellow roses near the names of their missing loved ones.
“When the South Tower came down I remember turning to my mother-in-law in my house and I said, I think I just lost my brother,” said Tunnel-to-Towers founder Frank Siller as he arrived at the ceremony at the end of a 540-mile trek made to honor hero firefighter Stephen Siller. “Twenty years ago, [it’s] like you were in a dream.”
Instead, the focus of attention was on the names of the 2,977 people killed in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on 9/11, read aloud by family members in a roll call that has become a cathartic tradition. The names of the six people who died in the terror bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 were also included.
The roster was to be interrupted six times for the tolling of a bell to mark successive moments of unspeakable carnage — starting at 8:46 a.m., when a hijacked American Airlines passenger jet plowed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
Five further pauses were set for 9:03, when the South Tower was pierced by a United Airlines 767; 9:37, when a third hijacked plane smashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.; 9:59, when the South Tower collapsed; 10:03, when the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 brought their hijacked airliner down near Shanksville, Penn.; and 10:28, when the North Tower finally crumbled.
Later Saturday, Biden and the first lady will travel to Shanksville for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial, then stop at the Pentagon for a second wreath-laying ceremony.
Former President Trump, who released a video statement paying tribute to 9/11 heroes, was scheduled to visit Ground Zero after the ceremony.